Superstar Shania Twain splitting up with husband
Published Thursday, May 15, 2008 5:29PM EDT
Toronto - She was a small-town beauty who overcame a tragic childhood to pursue her dream of country music stardom. He was a rock producer 17 years her senior whose Midas touch took her to the top of the charts.
The whirlwind romance of Shania Twain, 42, and Robert (Mutt) Lange, 59, was the stuff of fairy tales. But on Thursday, the celebrity pair announced they were splitting after 14 years of marriage.
The famously reclusive couple -- who have a six-year-old son, Eja -- made the announcement through their publicist.
"This is a private matter and there will be no further comment at this time,'' Tyson Parker of Universal Music Canada said in a statement.
Lange -- the uber-producer behind Def Leppard, AC/DC, Foreigner, the Cars and Bryan Adams -- approached Twain in the early 1990s after she released a self-titled debut.
They formed a professional partnership that quickly blossomed into a full-fledged romance, marrying in 1993 just six months after they met. Their age difference set tongues wagging, so much so that they penned their monster hit, "You're Still the One,'' as an ode to their union.
Their powerhouse musical partnership saw Twain became one of the world's most popular female pop singers, captivating fans with her unique sound and her rags-to-riches story.
She was born Eilleen Regina Edwards in Windsor, Ont., and raised in Timmins, Ont., where she earned money by singing in local clubs at the age of eight to support her family. Later, Twain struggled to look after her younger siblings after her parents died in a 1987 car crash.
Her breakthrough came when Lange produced her second disc, 1995's "The Woman in Me,'' which spawned her first Number One single, "Any Man of Mine.''
Shania showed off, Lange shunned spotlight
Twain's bare midriff and rock-tinged sound shook the staid world of country music, but audiences were clearly captivated. The singer went on to rack up a string of hits including, "You're Still the One,'' "That Don't Impress Me Much'' and "Man! I Feel Like a Woman.'' Other accolades included Grammys, Junos, country music and songwriter awards.
While Twain's good looks were made for magazine covers and music videos, Lange eschewed the spotlight. He has not granted an interview in decades and reportedly buys photos of himself to restrict their use.
News of the split Thursday sent fans buzzing online with speculation, with several remarking over the age difference between the pair.
"This makes me really sad,'' said one fan, identified as SheriBaby. "Especially because they have a young child...and they wrote all of her love songs together, for each other.''
They divided their time between New Zealand and Switzerland, where they lived in an 18th century home on the shore of Lake Geneva, with celebrity neighbours including Phil Collins.
The surprise announcement caught staff at Don's Pizzeria in Twain's hometown of Timmins, Ont., off guard, with no one having heard the news by Thursday afternoon.
Still, employee Tammy Jasmine, who says she used to hang out with Twain's brother many years ago, says the country star has remained important to the small northern Ontario community, home to a museum in her honour.
"Everyone loves Shania,'' said Jasmine. "How can't you? Look at her, she's beautiful, she's talented.''