Loretta Lynn, the “coal miner’s daughter” whose bold lyrics and gentle vocals made her the queen of country music for seven decades, is dead. She was 90 years old.
Lynn’s family said in a statement to CNN that she passed away Tuesday at her home in Tennessee.
“Our dear mother, Loretta Lynn, passed away peacefully this morning, October 4, in her sleep at home on her beloved ranch in Hurricane Mills,” the statement read.
They asked for privacy because they were sad and said a memorial would be announced at a later time.
Lynn, who had no formal music training but would spend hours each day singing her children to sleep, was known to release fully textured songs in a matter of minutes. I only wrote what I knew.
She lived in poverty most of her early life, began having children at age 17 and spent years married to a man prone to drinking and cheating—all of which became material for her spoken songs. Lynn’s life was rich with experiences that most country stars of the time did not go through for themselves – but her fans knew them intimately.
“So when I sing those country songs about women struggling to keep things going, you could say I was there,” she wrote in her first memoir. “As I say, I know what it means to be pregnant, nervous, and poor.”
Lynn scored impressive hits with fiery songs such as “Don’t Come Home A ‘Drinkin’ (with Lovin’ On Your Mind)” and “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man)”, which topped the country charts in 1966 and made it The first country singer to write a #1 hit song.
Her songs tell about family history, hit bad husbands and sympathize with women, wives and mothers everywhere. Her style known as “Tell Her Like This” has seen tracks like “Rated X” and “The Pill” banned from the radio, even as they became beloved classics.
“I wasn’t the first woman in country music,” Lynn said. Respected in 2007. “I was just the first person to stand there and say what I was thinking, what is life.”
Born Loretta Webb in 1932, she is one of eight children raised in Butcher Hollow in the mining town of Van Leer in the Appalachian Mountains, Kentucky. Growing up, Lynn sang in church and home, even as her father protested that everyone in Butcher Hollow could hear.
Her family has little money. But those early years were among her fondest memories, as she recounts in her 1971 hit song, “The Coal Miner’s Daughter”: “We were poor but we had love; we were poor. That was the only thing a father cared about.”
As a young teen, Loretta met the love of her life in Oliver “Dolittle” Lane, whom she affectionately called “Doo”. The couple married when Lynn was 15 – a fact that was made clear in 2012, after the Associated Press discovered that Lynn was a few years older than she said she was in her diary – and Lynn gave birth to their first of six children that same year.
“When I got married, I didn’t even know what pregnant meant,” Lin saidwho gave birth to four children in the first four years of marriage and a set of twins years later.
“I was in the fifth month of pregnancy when I went to the doctor, and he said, ‘You are going to have a baby.’ I said, ‘No way. I can’t have a child.’ He said, ‘Aren’t you married? Yes.’ He said, ‘You sleep with your husband? .’ And I did.”
Soon the couple headed to Washington State in search of jobs. Music was not a priority for the young mother at first. She would spend her days at work, mostly, picking strawberries in Washington State while her children sat on a blanket nearby.
But when her husband heard her tunes as she put her children to sleep, he said she sounded better than the girls singing on the radio. He bought her a $17 Harmony guitar and got it at a local bar.
It wasn’t until 1960 that she recorded what would become her first single, “Honky Tonk Girl.” Then the song took to the road, playing country music stations across the United States.
After years of hard work and raising children, telling stories with her guitar seemed like a break.
“Singing was easy,” Lynn said. NPR’s Teri Gross in 2010. “I thought this was an easy job.” ”
The success of her first single landed Lynn on the Grand Ole Opry stage in Nashville, and she soon signed a contract with Decca Records. She soon befriended country star Patsy Cline, who guided her through the fame and fashion of country stardom until her horrific death in a plane crash in 1963.
Klein “She was my only friend at the time. She took me under her wings, and when I lost her, it was something else. I still miss her to this day,” said Lynn. Denver Post In 2009. “I wrote ‘You’re not woman enough to take my man,'” and said, ‘Loretta, this is a hit. “It shocked me, because you wouldn’t expect someone like Patsy Cline to tell you that you made it. Right after her death, you took out the record, and it was a huge success.”
Lin’s struggle and success has become legendary, a recurring tale of youth, gullibility, and poverty.
From “Fist Town” to “You’re Looking at the Country,” Lynn has always sung from the heart, whether she’s telling a woman who cares about Doo or honoring her Appalachian roots. But her music was far from traditional.
She rocked the conservative rural establishment with songs like “Rating an X,” about the stigma that fun-loving women face after a divorce, and “The Pill,” in which a woman drinks to her newfound freedom thanks to birth control — “They didn’t have them,” Lynn wrote in her diary: None of them were pills when I was younger, or I swallowed them like popcorn.”
She documented her upbringing in the 1976 bestselling memoir “The Coal Miner’s Daughter,” which he co-wrote with George Vesey. The 1980 biographical film of the same name won an Academy Award for actress Sissy Spacek and brought Lynn to wider fame. Lynn’s success also helped launch the music careers of her sisters, Peggy Sue Wright and Crystal Gale.
Legend Lynn faced questions in 2012 when Associated Press She stated that in the census records, birth certificate, and marriage license, Lane was three years older than most biographers reported. That didn’t spoil Lynn’s success, but it did make the recurring tales of her marriage and teenage motherhood less extreme.
“I never thought I’d be a role model,” Lynn said. San Antonio Express News In 2010. “I wrote from life, how things were in my life. I never understood why other people didn’t write what they know.”
Lynn has always credited her husband with giving her the confidence to make her first step on stage as a young performer. She has also spoken in interviews, and in her music, about the pain he caused over the nearly 50 years of their marriage. Doolittle Lynn died in 1996 after years of complications from heart problems and diabetes.
In her 2002 memoir, “I’m Still a Woman Enough,” Lynn wrote that he was an alcoholic and cheated and beat her, even when she hit him. But she stayed with him until his death and told NPR in 2010 that he was “out there somewhere” in every song she wrote.
“We fought one day and liked the next, so I mean… for me, that’s a good relationship,” she told NPR. “If you can’t fight, if you can’t tell each other what you think – why, your relationship isn’t much anyway.”
Lynn has won numerous awards throughout her career, including three Grammy Awards and several awards from the Academy of Country Music. She won Grammys for a 1971 duet with Conway Twitty, “After the Fire is Gone”, and the 2004 album “Van Lear Rose”, a collaboration with Jack White of the White Stripes that introduced her to a new generation of fans.
She was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1988, and her song “Coal Mine’s Daughter” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998. She was awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010, and in 2013, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
President Barack Obama “It gave a voice to a generation, sing what no one wanted to talk about and say what no one wanted to think about,” Lynn said.
Her career and legend only continued to grow in her later years as she recorded new songs, touring steadily and attracting loyal audiences in her 80s. The Dodd Museum and Farm is dedicated to Lynn at her home in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee.
She told Esquire in 2007, “Work keeps you young. I’ll never stop. And when I do, I’ll be on stage. It’ll be like that.”
Lynn has been hospitalized 2017 after suffering a stroke in her house. The following year, she broke her hip. Her health forced her to stop touring.
In early 2021, at the age of 89, she recorded her fiftieth album, Still Woman Enough.
The title song, which she sang alongside her successors Carrie Underwood and Reba McIntyre, sounded like a mission statement that embodies the ethos of her career:
“I am still woman enough, I still have what it takes inside;
I know how to love, lose, and live;
Not much I didn’t see, I didn’t try;
I was defeated, but not out of the fight;
I am strong, but I am thin;
wise, but cruel;
And let me tell you when it comes to love;
I’m still a woman enough.”