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Skeeter Davis, 72; Singer of Pop Hit ‘End of the World’

From Associated Press

Skeeter Davis, who hit the top of the pop music charts with “The End of the World” in 1962 and sang on the Grand Ole Opry radio show for more than 40 years, has died. She was 72.

Davis died Sunday of cancer in Nashville, said Grand Ole Opry publicist Jessie Schmidt. Davis had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 1988 and had a recurrence in 1996.

“The End of the World” was one of the early crossover hits in pop music, breaking through the top 5 on both the pop and country charts. Her hits included “I’m Saving My Love” and “I Can’t Stay Mad at You.”

Davis was nicknamed Skeeter by her grandfather, who said she was so active she buzzed around like a mosquito.

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In 1959, Davis became a regular on the Opry, a live radio show and continued to perform there as late as this year. During her career, she toured with Elvis Presley and the Rolling Stones.

In 1973, she was suspended from the Opry for more than a year for her on-the-air comments protesting the arrest of some Christian crusaders during a demonstration in Nashville.

“I felt like a child without a home,” she said after being reinstated.

A native of Dry Ridge, Ky., Davis was born Mary Frances Penick, the first of seven children. She took the name Skeeter Davis in the 1950s, when she became half of the Davis Sisters duet.

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Her singing partner, Betty Jack Davis, was killed in a 1953 car wreck in which Skeeter Davis was critically injured. After recovering, Skeeter Davis and Betty Jack’s sister, Georgia, revived the act briefly. But Skeeter then began a solo career under the guidance of RCA label chief Chet Atkins.

Her autobiography, “Bus Fare to Kentucky,” was published in 1993.

She was married three times.

She is survived by two sisters and two brothers.

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