Loretta Lynn, the coal miner’s daughter turned country queen, has died aged 90


Loretta Lynn, the “Coal Miner’s Daughter” whose sweet lyrics and down-home vocals made her the queen of country music for seven decades, has died. He was 90 years old.

Lynn’s family said in a statement to CNN that she died Tuesday at her home in Tennessee.

“Our precious mother, Loretta Lynn, passed away peacefully this morning, October 4th, in her sleep at home on her beloved ranch in Hurricane Mills,” the statement read.

They have asked for privacy in their grief and said a memorial will be announced later.

Lynn, who had no formal musical training but spent hours every day singing babies to sleep, was known to churn out highly textured songs in minutes. He just wrote what he knows.

She lived in poverty for much of her early life, began having children at 17 and spent years married to a man prone to drinking and gossiping; all of which became material for his regular songs. Lynn’s life was rich with experiences that most country stars of the time didn’t have, but which her female fans knew intimately.

“So when I sing those country songs about women struggling to keep things going, you could say I’ve been there,” she wrote in her first memoir, “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” “Like I said, I know what it’s like to be pregnant and anxious and poor.”

Lynn had hits with songs like “Don’t Come Home A’ Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind)” and “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man),” which reached No. 1 on the country charts in 1966. who had and made him the first country singer to write a #1 hit.

His songs told the story of the family, oppressed wicked husbands and commiserated with women, wives and mothers everywhere. His tell-it-like-it-is style got songs like “Rated X” and “The Pill” banned from radio, even though they became beloved classics.

“I wasn’t the first woman in country music,” Lynn told Esquire in 2007. “I was only the first to put it out there and say what life was all about.”

Loretta Webb was born in 1932, one of eight Webb children raised in Butcher Hollow, Appalachia in the Kentucky mining town of Van Lear. Growing up, Lynn sang in church and at home, even though her father protested that everyone in Butcher Hollow could hear her.

His family had little money. But those early years were some of his most beautiful memories, as he recounts in the 1971 hit “Coal Miner’s Daughter”: “We were poor but we had love; That’s the only thing my father made sure of.”

As a young teenager, Loretta met the love of her life in Oliver “Doolittle” Lynn, whom she affectionately called “Doo”. The couple married when Lynn was 15 — a fact that came to light in 2012 after the Associated Press discovered Lynn was a few years older than she claimed in her memoir — and Lynn gave birth to the first of six children the same year.

“When I got married, I didn’t know what it meant to be pregnant,” said Lynn, who had four children in the first four years of marriage and a set of twins years later.

“I was five months pregnant when I went to the doctor, and he said, ‘You’re going to have a baby.’ I said, ‘No way. I can’t have children.’ He said, ‘Aren’t you married?’ yes He said, ‘Do you sleep with your husband?’ yes “You’re going to have a child, Loretta. Believe me.’ And I did it.”

The couple soon moved to Washington state in search of work. At first, music was not a priority for the young mother. He spent his days working, mostly picking strawberries in Washington State, while the children sat around him on a blanket.

But when her husband heard her crooning her tunes and lulling the kids to sleep, she said she sounded better than the girl singers on the radio. He bought her a $17 Harmony guitar and got her a gig at a local bar.

It wasn’t until 1960 that she recorded what would become her first single, “Honky Tonk Girl.” He then took the song on the road, playing on country music stations across the United States.

After years of hard work and raising children, telling stories with his guitar seemed like a respite.

“Singing was easy,” Lynn told NPR’s Terry Gross in 2010. “I thought, ‘No, this is an easy job.’ ”

The success of her first single landed Lynn on stage at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and soon landed her a contract with Decca Records. He quickly befriended country star Patsy Cline, who guided him through the country star’s rise to fame and fashion until his death in a plane crash in 1963.

Cline “was my only girlfriend at the time. He took me under his wing, and when I lost him, it was something else. I still miss him to this day,” Lynn told The Denver Post in 2009. “I wrote ‘You Ain’t Woman Enough to Take My Man,’ and he said, ‘Loretta, it’s a damn hit.’ It surprised me because you don’t expect someone like Patsy Cline to say you have a hit. Immediately after he passed, I released the album, and it was a success.”

Lynn’s struggle and success became the stuff of legend, repeated in many stories of youth, innocence and poverty.

From “Fist City” to “You’re Lookin’ at Country,” Lynn always sang from the heart, whether it was telling about a woman interested in Doo or honoring her Appalachian roots. But his music was far from conventional.

He panned the country’s conservative establishment with songs like “Rated X,” about the stigma faced by funny women after divorce, and “The Pill,” in which a woman toasts her newfound freedom thanks to birth control — “They didn’t have it. When I was younger, none there were no pills, or I would have swallowed them like popcorn,” Lynn wrote in her memoir.

She documented her upbringing in the 1976 memoir “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” co-written with George Vecsey. A 1980 biopic of the same name won an Academy Award for actress Sissy Spacek and brought Lynn even more fame. Lynn’s success helped launch the music careers of her sisters, Peggy Sue Wright and Crystal Gayle.

Lynn’s legend was called into question in 2012 when The Associated Press reported in census records, a birth certificate and a marriage license that Lynn was three years older than most biographies said. It didn’t hinder Lynn’s success, but it made the oft-repeated stories of her teenage marriage and motherhood less extreme.

“I never, ever thought about being a model,” Lynn told the San Antonio Express-News in 2010. “I wrote from life, the way things were in my life. I could never understand why other people didn’t write what they knew.”

Lynn always credited her husband with giving her the confidence to take her first step on stage as a young performer. He also spoke in interviews and in his music about the pain it caused over their nearly 50-year marriage. Doolittle Lynn died in 1996 after complications from heart problems and diabetes.

In her 2002 book “Still Woman Enough,” Lynn wrote that she was an alcoholic who cheated on her and beat her, even though she would pay him back. But it stayed with him until his death, telling NPR in 2010 that “it’s in there somewhere” in every song he wrote.

“One day we’d fight and the next we’d love each other, so I mean … it’s a good relationship for me,” he 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 won numerous awards throughout her career, including three Grammys and numerous Academy of Country Music honors. He won Grammys for his 1971 duet with Conway Twitty, “After the Fire is Gone,” and his 2004 album, “Van Lear Rose,” which introduced him to a new generation of fans in collaboration with Jack White’s White Stripes.

President Barack Obama then awarded Loretta Lynn the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013.

He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1988, and his song “Coal Miner’s Daughter” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998. In 2010 he received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2013, he received the award. Presidential Medal of Freedom.

President Barack Obama said Lynn “gave a voice to a generation, singing what no one wanted to talk about and saying what no one wanted to think.”

His career and legend continued to grow in his later years as he recorded new songs, toured constantly and attracted loyal audiences into his 80s. A museum and dude ranch are dedicated to Lynn at his home in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee.

“Working out keeps you young,” he told Esquire in 2007. “I will never stop. And when I do, it will be on stage. That will be it.”

Lynn was hospitalized in 2017 after suffering a stroke at her home. The following year he broke a hip. His health forced him to stop touring.

In early 2021, at the age of 89, she recorded her 50th album, “Still Woman Enough”.

The title track, which she sang alongside heiresses Carrie Underwood and Reba McEntire, sounded like a mission that captures the ethos of her career:

“I’m still woman enough, I still have what’s inside;

I know how to love, lose and survive;

I haven’t seen much, I haven’t tried;

I have been knocked down, but never out of the fight;

I am strong, but I am tender;

I am wise, but hard;

And let me tell you when it comes to love;

I’m still quite a woman.”