b. Don Lloyd Amburgey, c.1931, Kentucky, USA. One of six children, Chapel was raised in a very musical atmosphere; sisters Irene, Bertha and Opal sang as Martha, Minnie and Mattie, the Sunshine Girls. Irene, who married James Roberts, became noted country gospel singer Martha Carson; Minnie sang with Bill Carlisle; Mattie, who took the stage name of Jean Chapel, became a rockabilly star. Encouraged by the latter, who recorded his ‘I’ve Got A Mem’ry (You Can’t Touch)’, Don concentrated on songwriting and along the way adopting his sister’s stage surname. His songs, some written in collaboration with others, have been recorded over the years by many stars of country and rock, including Lynn Anderson, Doug Kershaw, Jerry Lee Lewis, Charlie Louvin, Melba Montgomery, Webb Pierce, Ray Price, Ernest Tubb and Conway Twitty.
During the 60s, Chapel worked for various recording companies, sometimes recording himself but often as a songwriter. In the late 60s, he and his daughter, future country singer Donna Chapel, recorded duets, including ‘Take A Little Goodwill Home’ and ‘We’ve Got Love’; another of his three children, Mike, played drums and became a record producer. With Donna and Mike, Chapel appeared as the Chapperones. In 1967, he and country singer Tammy Wynette were married and they briefly worked together. Both had three children and Donna was for a while one of Wynette’s backing singers. The marriage did not last long and, under personal and professional pressures, the following year they were divorced. Among Wynette’s recordings are some of Chapel’s songs, including ‘Together We Stand, Divided We Fall’ (which she did as a duet with David Houston), ‘Joey’, ‘My Heart Is Soakin’ Wet’ and ‘All Night Long’.
One of the best known and most-recorded of Chapel’s songs is ‘When The Grass Grows Over Me’, notably by George Jones who also recorded ‘Let’s Get Together’. Other songs of Chapel’s include ‘From Here To The Door’, ‘Call Off The Party Tonight’, ‘Misty Morning Rain’, ‘Everything Is Coming Back But You’, ‘Feed It To The Fish’ and ‘Loving You Is A Way Of Life With Me’. Among songs that Chapel also recorded are ‘Here We Go Again’, ‘Hurtin’ Time’, ‘Summer Winds’ and ‘Flowers And Candy’. Although songwriting was central to his career from its earliest years, Chapel has appeared as a performer on many occasions, including taking the stage at the Grand Ole Opry.