What is there to say about Reba McEntire that hasn’t already been said?
Throughout her musical career, she has won so many prestigious awards. This includes winning three Grammys, 14 American Music Awards, and 17 Academy of Country Music awards. As if her musical skills weren’t impressive enough, she is also an amazing actor and was even nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance in her hit TV show Reba.
However, for all of her professional success, Reba McEntire has often struggled behind the scenes. This is particularly true of her romantic life: she has endured not just one but two brutal divorces!
Why did Reba’s husbands leave her? How did this affect her life, her art, and her career? We’ve got all the answers you’re looking for!
How Reba met her first husband
The first major love of Reba McEntire’s life was a man named Charlie Battles. As befitting this country music legend, Battles was a rodeo star!
The two actually met through the rodeo, where Reba competed as a barrel racer. As Cheat Sheet reports, she thought Battles was “ruggedly handsome,” and she enjoyed the fame and reputation he had on the rodeo circuit as a world champion steer wrestler.
Still, she didn’t have any romantic intentions toward Battles at first. After all, he was 10 years older than her, married, and already had two kids. But when Reba was celebrating her third place victory at a barrel racing event (meaning she was now officially a cowgirl), she impulsively kissed him after a night of drinking at the Cow Palace.
After that, Battles abruptly left his wife. And while it didn’t happen right away, he eventually began dating Reba.
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Reba got married at 21 years old
After dating for a short time, Reba married Charlie Battles in 1976. She was only 21 years old at the time, and many these days might consider that too young to get married. As it turns out, though, it wasn’t too young to launch her career!
The same year she got married, Reba released her first single: “I Don’t Want to Be a One Night Stand.” The song wasn’t a major hit, but it kicked off a musical itch that Reba just kept scratching, showing she could sing without the help of her family (the so-called Singing McEntires). And in 1979, her cover of Patsy Cline’s “Sweet Dreams” became her first song to land on the Billboard Top 20. And the rest of her career is the stuff of musical legends!
Why Reba’s first marriage ended
In theory, Reba should have been on top of the world by now. She had a rodeo star for a husband and she was becoming famous all around the world. Sadly, though, this first marriage was no “happily ever after.”
The two ended up divorcing in 1987. As for what drove the divorce, it depends on who you ask. Battles maintained that he wanted to live a quiet life on their Oklahoma ranch and that this was incompatible with Reba’s lifestyle as a touring musical megastar. Reba tells a different story, though: one of petty jealousy.
According to Cheat Sheet, Battles grew resentful of her career, resorting to talking down to Reba in front of her entire band. She eventually told him she needed some time apart (Battles always traveled with her on tour). Battles gathered his things to leave, and Reba asked if he needed any money. A shamed Battles had to admit he had already snagged $400 out of her purse.
Reba said, “One thing led to another and for the first time in our life together, I thought Charlie was going to hit me as he reared back with his shaving kit in his hand.” Adding insult to (near) injury, this was a special shaving kit she had bought Battles as a Christmas present. She later said the kit became a “symbol of all that had become unbearable” about their time together.
Reba’s second marriage lasted 26 years
Reba McEntire was good at bouncing back after her 1987 divorce. She began dating Narvel Blackstock, a producer whom she had worked with before. The two married in 1988 and even had a child together: a daughter named Shelby McEntire Blackstock.
The two were married for 26 years, and Blackstock was Reba’s partner in music as well as in life. He helped manage her career, helping it to grow to even greater heights for nearly three decades.
Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and that includes Reba’s second marriage. But why?
Why Reba McEntire and Narvel Blackstock divorced
Reba and Blackstock divorced in 2015. And unlike the case with Charlie Battles, this was entirely one-sided: the divorce was not Reba’s idea at all.
As for why Blackstock suddenly wanted a divorce, neither he nor Reba have ever said. However, Country Thang Daily reports that Blackstock began dating Laura Putty Stroud about a month after the divorce was finalized. Because Stroud was a mutual friend between Reba and Blackstock, many have speculated that he was having an affair with the other woman and that this drove him away from Reba.
As for Reba, she quickly began managing her own business affairs after the divorce. And after a few years, she felt comfortable singing about their breakup in the first single from her 2019 album Stronger than the Truth.
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A new romantic beginning
Now 67 years old, Reba McEntire’s romantic journey didn’t end with her 2015 divorce. In January 2020, she went on a dinner date with CSI: Miami star Rex Linn, 65, which they documented on Instagram. They had actually met 30 years earlier on the set of a movie, 1991’s The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw.
“We’ve kept in contact with each other over the years, and we both know the same people, so it was just like good friends getting back together having dinner in January,” Reba said on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen in November 2020 (via Us Weekly).
But once they started dating their relationship was soon met with challenges. Reba’s mother passed away on March 14, 2020 and lockdowns quickly swept the U.S. as the COVID-19 pandemic hit. “And then we started texting and talking on the telephone, getting to know each other better during the quarantine,” Reba explained to Andy Cohen.
During lockdown, Reba and Rex made a long-distance relationship work, according to People. They would call each other early in the morning despite a three-hour time difference while Reba lived in Tennessee and Rex lived in California.
In October 2020, they went public with their relationship on Instagram, complete with cutesy nicknames: he’s her “Sugar Tot” and she’s his “Tater Tot.”
Reba described how Rex gave her this nickname during their very first date on an episode of her Spotify podcast “Living & Learning with Reba McEntire” (via TODAY). “On the menu was Tater Tots and I just went nuts because I love Tater Tots. And so, Rex is famous for giving people nicknames and he said, ‘That’s yours.'”
Eventually, Rex got a nickname of his own when Reba’s sister Susie said, “Tell ‘Sugar Tot’ hi for us,” while Reba was on the phone with him.
So, are wedding bells on the horizon for Reba and Rex?
“We’ve talked about it and giggled about [getting married],” McEntire told Extra. “We thought, ‘Man, if we ever did have a ceremony, we would have to have a 2 o’clock, 4 o’clock, 6 o’clock, and an 8 o’clock because we have so many friends, acquaintances, and family.”
While no fixed plans are on the horizon, we’re excited to see what this power couple does next!
“I’ve waited 66 years for a man to pray with and to share a faith and love of the Lord, to be compassionate and have a compassionate heart,” Reba told the Jesus Calling podcast in October 2021. “That’s very special.”