The answer was a shock: She was Loretta Lynn’s kid sister, Brenda Gail Webb, who looked and sounded nothing like Loretta (who was 16 years older). Brenda had adapted the stage name of Crystal Gayle, reportedly taken from the “Krystal” chain of fast-food restaurants popular throughout the South at the time. Lynn had gotten Crystal signed with Decca Records (Loretta’s label) and had even written her first single.
Crystal Gayle was born in Paintsville, Kentucky on January 9, 1951, but she grew up in an entirely different atmosphere than the “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” Loretta Lynn had long-since married and moved away by the time her baby sister came into the world. The family moved to Wabash, Indiana when Brenda was just four years old. She was nine by the time Loretta’s first record, “Honky Tonk Girl” reached #14 in 1960, sending Lynn on her path to stardom.
Meanwhile, Brenda was attracted to a widely-diverse spectrum of musical styles. Everything from Patsy Cline to Lesley Gore to the Beatles came up on her list of favorites. Lynn, in fact, urged her baby sister to make records that distinguished the two of them stylistically. Years later, in an interview with TV Guide’s Neil Hickey, Crystal said, “There’s only one Loretta Lynn and if I had been real country, I probably wouldn’t have done as well because people would say ‘she’s just trying to sound like her sister.’” Gayle’s “bluesy” style was the perfect ingredient to set her apart from, not only Loretta, but every other artist in Nashville as well.