Loretta Lynn, a true living legend of country music, has died. The iconic country singer whose life story inspired her title track “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and an Oscar-winning biopic of the same name was 90 years old.
“Our precious mother, Loretta Lynn, passed away peacefully this morning, October 4, while she slept at her beloved ranch in Hurricane Mills,” Lynn’s family said in a statement.
In honor of the trailblazing country star, let’s take a look back at her incredible career.
Early life and marriage
Lynn was born on April 14, 1932, in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, the second oldest of eight children. Her father was a coal miner, who died of black lung disease at the age of 52.
She married her first husband, Oliver “Doolittle” Lynn, when she was just 15 and he was 21. She had four children, all before the age of 20, and worked to help support her family.
Her complicated marriage is one of the most famous in music.
“I married Doo when she was just a girl, and he was my life from that day on,” Lynn later wrote in her 2002 memoir Still Woman Enough. “But as important as my youth and upbringing was, there’s something else that made me get attached to Doo. She thought I was something special, more special than anyone in the world, and she never let me forget it. That belief would be hard to push out the door. Doo was my security, my safety net.”
“Doo was a good man and a hard worker. But he was an alcoholic and that affected our marriage every step of the way.”
She remained married to Doolittle Lynn for 48 years until her death in 1996.
While her early life was often difficult and would inspire much of her later songwriting, she began to pursue a career in music with the encouragement of her husband, learning guitar and playing local venues.
In 1960, she recorded her first album, “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl”.
Success as a country artist
That year she also saw her first performance at the Grand Ole Opry. Mentors from the Nashville country music scene, most notably Patsy Cline, helped her career take off.
Sadly, Cline died in a plane crash in 1963, a tragedy that devastated her: “I met her and it was like she was my sister,” Lynn told the New York Post. “She was like we’ve been together forever.”
Lynn’s 1962 song “Success” became her first Top 10 hit on the country charts, and her first album, Loretta Lynn Sings, reached No. 2 on the country album chart. .
She had a string of hit songs throughout the 1960s, often dealing with topics considered taboo in country music at the time. Her song “Dear Uncle Sam” was critical of the Vietnam War and “The Pill” addressed the controversial issue of birth control.
These songs were often banned from radio, but that didn’t stop Lynn from becoming one of country music’s top female stars.
Loretta Lynn has more banned songs than any other country artist,” the artist’s granddaughter, Tayla Lynn, recently told NewsNation. “They tried to cancel it before canceling culture was a thing.”
‘The Coal Miner’s Daughter’
Lynn went on to record some of her most famous songs, including “You Ai n’t Woman Enough” and “Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ (with Lovin’ on Your Mind),” which reached No. The lists.
But it was her 1970 autobiographical hit “Coal Miner’s Daughter” that remains her signature song.
The song also lent its title to her best-selling 1976 autobiography, which made Lynn the first country artist to top the New York Times best-seller list, and was adapted into a hit movie in 1980.
The film brought the story of Lynn’s life to a wide audience and was nominated for 7 Academy Awards, earning Sissy Spacek the Best Actress Oscar for Lynn’s portrayal of her.
Decades in business
After 60 years of recording music, Lynn was a certified country legend.
She continued to record music, collaborating with country artists like Willie Nelson and more contemporary artists like Jack White.
She has won three Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1988. Lynn received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama in 2013.
Lynn suffered a stroke in 2018 and broke her hip in 2018, but has recovered to record more music. Still, she has often been the subject of rumors about her deteriorating health: a report in 2019 said that she was in a nursing home and on the verge of death, which she happily disputed.
“Well, over the years they have said that I am broke, homeless, cheating, drinking, insane, terminally ill and even dead.” she wrote on Facebook. “The poor can never get it right.”
In fact, despite her old age, Lynn continued to record music and released her 50th studio album last year, just before her 89th birthday.
Still Woman Enough, a mix of classic songs and new material, was released on March 19 to positive reviews. It peaked at number 9 on the US Country Albums Chart.
The album features vocal performances from other country stars such as Reba McEntire and Carrie Underwood.
“She’s still up there on that hill, writing music,” her granddaughter Tayla said, adding that she has always been modest about her success.
“She is so humble,” she said. “But she’s also one of the wisest women I’ve ever met. So I think she probably has an idea that she’s made a move or two in the music business.”
It would certainly be clear from the outpouring of love that Lynn receives from her fellow musical artists of hers, especially in the country music industry.
NASHVILLE, TN – NOVEMBER 08: (L-R) Recording artists Jennifer Nettles, Loretta Lynn and Trisha Yearwood perform during the CMA 2016 Country Christmas on November 8, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Davis/FilmMagic)
Last year, catastrophic flooding swept through Lynn’s home state of Tennessee, leading to the death of her longtime ranch foreman. Lynn was devastated, but her fellow country stars, including Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire, organized a benefit concert called Loretta Lynn’s Friends: Hometown Rising to rebuild homes and businesses in the area.
Loretta’s 90th Birthday
In honor of Lynn’s 90th birthday, the Grand Ole Opry held a special tribute concert, honoring one of the “most beloved and celebrated members” of the Opry.
The concert featured performances by country artists such as the Gatlin Brothers, Elizabeth Cook and Maggie Rose. It was also a big family affair, as two members of Lynn’s family took the stage: her sister, country singer Crystal Gayle, and her granddaughter Tayla Lynn.
Tayla is making her Opry debut, nearly 62 years after her grandmother, performing with Tre Twitty, the grandson of Conway Twitty, the country star who was one of Loretta Lynn’s most frequent collaborators. Conway Twitty died in 1993.
Lynn is survived by four of her children: Clara, Ernest, and twins Peggy Jean and Patsy Eileen.
Her eldest son, Jack Benny, drowned in 1984 at the age of 34 when he was trying to cross a river on horseback on the family ranch, and her eldest daughter, Betty Sue, 64, died of emphysema in 2013. .