5 Best Country Duos of the ’70s

Country music in the 1970s saw an excess of duets. Artists were flocking together to create iconic hits like never before.

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In many ways, country music is tailor-made for a duet. Most of the genre puts a focus on storytelling. With two voices on a record, the listener is able to get both sides of the story. Solo country acts experienced a boom in the decade, but duos were running the game.

Below, we compiled a list of the best country duos that made waves in the ’70s.

1. Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty

Both Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty had a knack for infusing their personalities into their performances. They shared similar sensibilities – notably a wry humor that few of their peers possessed.

Their duets came in many shades. They were poking fun in one moment and expressing deep heartbreak in another. All of it worked in spades, making Lynn and Twitty one of the premier country duos of the decade.

2. Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner

Any partnership that spawns a song like “I Will Always Love You” is a formidable one. Dolly Parton first achieved fame alongside Porter Wagoner on his television special. There, the duo forged a partnership that would go on to inspire a number of duets, including “The Last Thing on My Mind,” “Say Forever You’ll Be Mine,” “Making Plans,” and more.

Though they severed their professional relationship in 1975, “I Will Always Love You” (the song Parton wrote as a “goodbye” to Wagoner) has kept the lifespan of the duo alive in the minds of country music fans the world over.

3. Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings

While most of the duos on this list were in keeping with the classic Nashville sound, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings dared to be a little harder-edged. The two artists helped to define a new sonic direction in country music, so it only made sense for them to team up. What’s better than one outlaw? Two.

Nelson and Jennings started their time as a duo with the 1976 album, Wanted! The Outlaws, alongside Jessi Colter and Tompall Glaser. The album went on to become the genre’s first platinum-certified album.

Their biggest hit as a pair, “Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” was released in 1978 on their collaborative album, Waylon & Willie. The song put a nice ribbon around the outlaw mindset and remains their calling card today.

4. Johnny and June Carter Cash

Though a strong enough friendship can create a chemistry between two artists that is palpable, there is nothing like the music a husband and wife can make together.

Johnny and June’s relationship got off to a tumultuous start. Both singers were married when they met, but quickly fell for one another. “It was not a convenient time for me to fall in love with him, and it wasn’t a convenient time for him to fall in love with me,” June Carter once told Rolling Stone.

But, the heart wants what it wants and soon the pair were married. While married they recorded seminal hits like “Jackson” and “If I Were a Carpenter.”

Their relationship was less-than-perfect at times, but the music they created together never faltered.

5. George Jones and Tammy Wynette

We’re rounding out this list with another married couple/country duo: George Jones and Tammy Wynette.

Both Jones and Wynette were respected artists in their own rights before they started recording together, so it stands to reason that their combined efforts scored even higher on the Likert scale of fame.

Arguably their biggest hit together, “Golden Ring” was released in 1975, towards the end of their marriage. Their music careers outlived their personal relationship with the duo continuing to perform together long after they divorced. Few country duos are as cherished as this one.

(Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

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