Zella Lehr

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b. 14 March 1951, Burbank, California, USA. At the age of six, adept at juggling and riding a unicycle, she was already performing as a member of the Crazy Lehrs Family, a vaudeville act started by her…
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b. 14 March 1951, Burbank, California, USA. At the age of six, adept at juggling and riding a unicycle, she was already performing as a member of the Crazy Lehrs Family, a vaudeville act started by her father some years earlier. (When big enough, she also added displays with a bullwhip to her act). When vaudeville was badly affected by television competition in the USA, the act toured extensively in Europe and the Far East. When her parents retired, she continued to perform with her two brothers and a sister-in-law as the Young Lehrs, until the act ended upon the death of her father. She took singing and dancing lessons and appeared in television commercials before applying for an audition for the popular Hee Haw television programme. She made quite an impression when she arrived on a large unicycle and impressed the producer enough to get a job. After two years with Hee Haw, she also began appearing as a solo act on the Las Vegas-Lake Tahoe casino circuit. In 1977, she relocated to Nashville, where she recorded for RCA Records and gained her first chart hit, a Top 10, with her version of Dolly Parton’s ‘Two Doors Down.’ By 1980, when she left the label, she had eight further hits, the biggest being ‘Danger, Heartbreak Ahead’ (a number 20) and ‘Rodeo Eyes’ (a number 25). RCA surprisingly never released an album of her recordings. Between 1981 and 1983, recording for Columbia Records, she added four more hits, including a Top 16 with ‘Feedin’ the Fire.’ In 1984-85, she had moved to the Compleat label, where she registered her final two chart entries. During the 80s, she toured with her band the Gypsy Riders, making visits to Australia in 1988 and 1989. In later years, she shortened her name to Zella.