Many of country music's greatest stars have lived the life on the songs they sang. Drinkin', druggin', cheatin'. The life stories of some of the biggest legends are, well, legendary.

But murder? Songs about murder are rare, but they're there. But country music stars who've been convicted of the crime? Rarer still.

Meet Spade Cooley.

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In the 1940s and 1950's a big part of what fell under the umbrella of 'Country Music' was Western Swing. The most legendary name in the genre' was Bob Wills...and his Texas Playboys. There were other famous artists as well, including Spade Cooley. His mid-1940's hit 'Shame on You' topped the country charts for two solid months. In fact he had a string of 6 Top Ten hits in a row. He was riding atop the country music/western swing world.

In the 1950's he hosted his own TV show in Los Angeles with guests like Frank Sinatra and Dinah Shore, along with many of his fellow country music stars. In addition, Cooley appeared in a whopping 38 western movies which were so popular 'in the day'. Things were going great.

Until 1961.

It was on April 26th of that year that Spade Cooley was indicted in Kern County California for the April 3 murder of his second wife Ella Mae. She was found in their ranch home beaten to death. Spade was found guilty of first-degree murder in August of that year.

In November 1969 Cooley received a 72-hour furlough to perform at a benefit concert. During intermission, and after receiving a standing ovation, Spade Cooley suffered a fatal heart attack backstage. He was 58 years old.

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