Where did the baby name Crystalgayle come from?

The Crystal Gayle album "We Must Believe In Magic" (1977).
Crystal Gayle album (1977)

The compound name Crystalgayle was a one-hit wonder in the U.S. baby name data in 1981:

  • 1983: unlisted
  • 1982: unlisted
  • 1981: 5 baby girls named Crystalgayle [debut]
  • 1980: unlisted
  • 1979: unlisted

The source, of course, is country singer Crystal Gayle.

The timing of the debut has less to do with her career, though, than with the sudden trendiness of the name Krystle, thanks to TV character Krystle Carrington (from the prime-time soap opera Dynasty).

But the name Crystal — without the Gayle — does seem to have been given a boost by Crystal Gayle’s best-known hit, “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue,” which came out in mid-1977. It was already on the rise in the ’70s, but that rise accelerated in ’77 and ’78:

  • 1979: 13,467 baby girls named Crystal (rank: 18th)
  • 1978: 12,592 baby girls named Crystal (rank: 18th)
  • 1977: 9,728 baby girls named Crystal (rank: 25th)
  • 1976: 6,947 baby girls named Crystal (rank: 36th)
  • 1975: 6,244 baby girls named Crystal (rank: 43rd)

Crystal Gayle was born Brenda Gail Webb in 1951. She was the youngest of eight; her siblings were named Melvin, Loretta, Herman, Willie, Donald, Peggy, and Betty.

Brenda was ready to start her singing career as soon as she was done with high school. At that point, her sister Loretta — nearly 19 years her senior — had already turned herself into famous country singer Loretta Lynn. So Brenda signed with Loretta’s recording label, Decca.

As the label already had Brenda Lee, a change of name was needed and, when they drove past a sign for Krystal hamburgers, Lynn said, ‘That’s your name. Crystals are bright and shiny, like you.’

(The founders of the fast food chain Krystal were keen on cleanliness, so they chose the name “Crystal” to evoke the idea of a crystal-clean restaurant, but decided to spell it with a “K” to make it distinctive.)

What are your thoughts on the name Crystal? What’s your preferred spelling of the name?

Sources:

  • Crystal Gayle – Wikipedia
  • Hogan, David G. Selling ’em by the Sack: White Castle and the Creation of American Food. NY: New York University Press, 1999.
  • Larkin, Colin. The Encyclopedia of Popular Music. 5th ed. London: Omnibus Press, 2011.
  • Shearer, John. “75 Years Of Krystal.” Chattanoogan.com 8 Oct. 2007.
  • SSA

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