The Story Behind The Song: “Mama He’s Crazy” – The Judds

The Judds
The Judds

Twenty eight-year-old Kenny O’Dell had come to Nashville in 1970 with a background centered in rock and pop music. O’Dell had begun singing at the age of nine and, using a Martin guitar as his rhythm partner, he had performed with several bands before he graduated from junior high. In the early sixties he migrated from his native Oklahoma to California and worked with a host of different stars, including rock guitar legend Duane Eddy. In 1967, O’Dell finally landed a West Coast record deal and hit the pop chart with a self-penned song called “Beautiful People.” Bobby Vee also cut Kenny’s composition and made “Beautiful People” into a minor hit. When O’Dell’s next song “Next Plane To London” became a top twenty hit for the group Rose Garden, things looked bright. But a career in rock music was by then starting to be more and more difficult to maintain, and soon Kenny’s songwriting capability was falling on deaf ears. When he was offered the opportunity to move to Nashville in 1970 and run Bobby Goldsboro’s publishing group, O’Dell jumped at the chance.

In Music City, Kenny soon found his niche and began turning out hit country songs such as “I Take It On Home,” Charlie Rich’s first big one in ’72, then Charlie’s monster record the following year “Behind Closed Doors,” Tanya Tucker’s “Lizzie and the Rainman” and “What I’ve Got In Mind” by Billie Jo Spears. The successful scribe was even given the chance to come back into the studio and record, signing with the independent label Capricorn. He produced three top twenty hits with Capricorn, the biggest of these being the #9 “Let’s Shake Hands and Come Out Lovin’” in 1978.

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