1 Surprising Request Showed Reba McEntire How Her Success Changed the People Around Her

Many people think success changes an individual, but Reba McEntire said her success changed some of the people around her. In her 1994 autobiography, Reba: My Story, she recounted losing some friends early in her career. More specifically, she was told to “shut up” and get her stuff out of her office, or an acquaintance would burn it “to the ground.”

And years later, she was “understandably surprised” to receive a request for more money to pay for that same office — one that taught her a hard-learned lesson about success.

Reba McEntire performs onstage in a black gown at the 94th Academy
Reba McEntire | Myung Chun/Los Angeles Times

Reba McEntire lost friends in her first divorce

According to McEntire, her first divorce was somewhat contentious by the time it was said and done. Her ex, Charlie Battles, seemingly wanted to get as much as he could from the country star in her parting, though they didn’t share any children.

He was a part of her career following their marriage in 1976, but their relationship grew so tense by 1987 she asked him to step down. Before she filed any paperwork, she asked Battles what he would do if she moved to end their marriage. “I’d ask for 10 percent of you for the rest of your life,” she recalled him saying.

Of course, she did eventually file for divorce. “I know our split was uncomfortable for everyone,” she noted, “and I suppose it was inevitable that certain friends would drift away.”

But one friend, Linda, left her particularly saddened.

Linda was McEntire’s secretary and bookkeeper in Oklahoma early in her career. In her autobiography, McEntire noted her friend “took great care” of her but felt “awkward” continuing to conduct business around Battles after the divorce.

To alleviate some of that discomfort, McEntire said she agreed to help construct a small, standalone office on Linda’s property. She split the cost of construction, noting Linda would own the building once it was all said and done.

Reba McEntire had a falling out with friends and received a request that left her ‘understandably surprised’

Eventually, when McEntire was living near Nashville, it didn’t work to have her headquarters in Oklahoma. Her career was taking off, and she needed to move her business. So, she asked Linda and her family, including her husband Pee-Wee, to come with her.

Linda was upset because she and McEntire had an agreement to maintain the office there, which McEntire understood. And since it was a big decision, Linda said she needed to think it over a little.

But McEntire said she was surprised when Pee-Wee responded to her offer by confronting her after a soundcheck. He stood with his feet spread apart and his arms folded over his chest, and he told her, “I’ll give you until noon tomorrow to get your stuff out of that office or I’m burning it to the ground.”

She tried to reason with him at first, but she soon realized he had his mind made up about her. The “Walk On” singer agreed to leave the office at the demanded time. But that wasn’t the last she heard about it. Years after that falling out, McEntire received a request for more money that left her “understandably surprised.”

Despite her husband having run McEntire out of the office with arson threats, Linda wrote a letter stating she decided their previous deal was “unfair” to her. She argued the superstar should “reimburse her for her share, plus pay her interest on the money.”

Reba McEntire ‘learned the hard way’ success changed some of the people around her

According to McEntire, she couldn’t even use the building and Linda owned it “outright,” but, instead of fighting with her about it, she sent a check along with a cordial note. “Here you go,” the “Fancy” singer wrote. “I hope everything is fine in your life and I think this squares everything up between us.”

In the end, McEntire said she “learned the hard way that [success] also changes the people around you.”

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