Image: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

With multiple Top Ten singles and major awards to her name, Barbara Mandrell was one of the biggest country stars of the ’70s and ’80s. She was also an occasional actress, TV host and writer. Now, two decades on from her retirement, here’s 20 things you may not know about the Sweetheart of Steel.

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20. She was the first female country artist to play the steel guitar

Mandrell wasn’t nicknamed the Sweetheart of Steel for nothing. At the tender age of 11, she was the only female country music artist playing the steel guitar. Mandrell had been inspired to pick up the instrument after watching Marion Hall become the genre’s first female saxophonist.

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Image: YouTube/PeterRabbit59

19. She toured with Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash aged just 13

Mandrell didn’t waste any time in showcasing her talents on a wider stage. She first began playing steel guitar for Patsy Cline at just 13 years old. Mandrell also joined fellow country legends George Jones and Johnny Cash on tour at the same young age, and she played in Las Vegas with Joe Maphis, too.

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