Johnnie Wright, the singer best known for his 1965 hit ‘Hello Vietnam’ and his lengthy marriage to fellow country star Kitty Wells, passed away Tuesday morning in his Tennessee home. He was 97.

Wright rose to prominence in the ’50s as half of the duo Johnnie & Jack, which helped introduce Latin rhythms to the country charts with a string of hits that included ‘Ashes of Love,’ ‘Poison Love,’ and ‘(Oh Baby Mine) I Get So Lonely.’

Wright largely stopped recording after the early ’70s, but he continued to tour with Wells and their children, fellow country singers Ruby, Carol Sue, and Bobby Wright, until finally retiring from live performances in 2000.

After marrying Muriel Deason in 1937, Wright gave her the stage name Kitty Wells, and helped make her a headlining star during an era when the spotlight rarely shone on female country singers. Wells, who went on to record the career-defining smash hit ‘It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels’ and earn her own spot in the Country Music Hall of Fame, survives Wright, along with their children Carol Sue and Bobby.

[Taste of Country]