Born and raised in Beaumont, Texas, Spears began performing when she was a child and had her first radio single out, the humorously titled 'Too Old for Toys, Too Young for Boys,' when she was just a teenager. After spending much of her adolescent years singing in clubs, she found a mentor who jump-started her career, famed songwriter Jack Rhodes ('A Satisfied Mind,' 'Silver Threads and Golden Needles'), who helped Spears find and record material that would eventually land her a major label record deal.
The singing sensation, praised for her bluesy voice with an impressive range, moved to Nashville in 1964. After failing to gain any chart success with her debut efforts, she finally scored her first hit in 1969 with 'Mr. Walker It's All Over,' which received both country and pop radio airplay. Other hits that followed included 'What I've Got in Mind,' 'Blanket on the Ground,' 'Misty Blue,' '57 Chevrolet,' 'If You Want Me' and a cover of Tammy Wynette's 'Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad,' among several other songs that catapulted Spears to fame in both the U.S. and U.K.
Spears had two surgeries on her vocal cords in the early '70s, making a full recovery from both. She also had triple bypass surgery in 1993, but continued to tour after rebounding once again. The singer passed away Wednesday (Dec. 14) at her home in Vidor, Texas. The cause of her death has not yet been made public.