Loretta Lynn, coal miner’s daughter turned forthright country queen, dies at 90 – WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports


(CNN) — Loretta Lynn, the “Miner’s Daughter” whose bold lyrics and bold, laid-back vocals made her the queen of country music for seven decades, has died. She was 90.

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

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

They asked for privacy while they grieve and said a memorial will be announced at a later date.

Lynn, who had no formal musical training but spent hours every day singing her babies to sleep, was known for churning out fully textured songs in a matter of minutes. She just wrote what she knew.

She lived in poverty for most of her early life, began having children at age 17, and spent years married to a man prone to drinking and fornication—all of which became material for her outspoken songs. Lynn’s life was rich with experiences that most country stars of the time didn’t have for themselves – but her fans knew them intimately.

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

Lynn scored hits with fiery songs like “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 her the first country singer to score a #1 hit.

Her songs tell a family story, skewer crappy husbands, and empathize with women, wives, and mothers everywhere. Her tell-it-like-it-is style led to songs like “Rated X” and “The Pill” being 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 just the first one to stand up and say what I think, what life is all about.”

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

Her family had little money. But those early years were some of her fondest memories, as she recounted in her 1971 hit “Coal Miner’s Daughter”: “We were poor, but we had love; That’s the only thing Dad made sure of.

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

“When I got married, I didn’t even know what it meant to be pregnant,” said Lynn, who gave birth to four children in the first four years of marriage and several 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 a baby. He said, “Aren’t you married?” yes He said, “Are you sleeping with your husband?” yes “You’re going to have a baby, Loretta. Trust me.’ I did too.

The couple soon headed to Washington state in search of work. Music was not a priority for the young mother at first. She spent her days working, mostly picking strawberries in Washington state, while her babies sat on a blanket nearby.

But when her husband heard her humming tunes and soothing their babies to sleep, he said she sounded better than the girl singers on the radio. He bought her a Harmony guitar for $17 and got her a gig at a local tavern.

It wasn’t until 1960 that she recorded what would become her debut single, “Honky Tonk Girl.” She 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 the guitar seemed like a break.

“Singing was easy,” Lynn told NPR’s Terry Gross in 2010. “I thought, ‘Gosh, this is an easy job.'”

The success of her first single brought Lynn to the stage of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and she soon signed a contract with Decca Records. She quickly befriends country star Patsy Cline, who guides her through country star fame and fashion until her shocking death in a plane crash in 1963.

Klein “was my only girlfriend at the time. She took me under her wing and when I lost her it was something else. I still miss her to this day,” Lynn told The Denver Post in 2009. “I wrote ‘You’re not woman enough to take my man,’ and she said, ‘Loretta, that’s a damn hit.’ It shocks me because you don’t expect someone like Patsy Cline to tell you that you have a hit. Right after she passed away, I played the record and it was a hit.

Her most famous songs are from her life and marriage
Lynn’s struggle and success has become a legend, an oft-repeated story of youth, naivety and poverty.

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

She rankled the conservative country establishment with songs like “Rated X,” about the stigma faced by fun-loving women after divorce, and “The Pill,” in which a woman extolls her newfound freedom thanks to birth control — “They don’t have had none of them take pills when I was younger or I would have swallowed them like popcorn,” Lynn wrote in her memoir.

She documented her upbringing in the 1976 bestseller The Miner’s Daughter, co-written with George Vecesi. A 1980 biopic of the same name won an Oscar for actress Sissy Spacek and brought Lynn wider fame. Lynn’s success also helped launch the music careers of her sisters Peggy Sue Wright and Crystal Gayle.

Lynn’s legend came into question in 2012 when the Associated Press reported that census, birth certificate and marriage certificate records showed Lynn to be three years older than most biographies indicated. It didn’t overshadow Lynn’s success, but it did make the oft-repeated stories of her teenage marriage and motherhood less extreme.

“I never, ever thought about being a role model,” Lynn told the San Antonio Express-News in 2010. “I was writing from life, how things were in my life. I could never understand why others don’t write down what they know.

Lynn has always credited her husband with giving her the confidence to step onto the stage as a young performer. She has also spoken in interviews and in her music about the pain he caused during their nearly 50-year marriage. Doolittle Lynn died in 1996 after years of complications from heart problems and diabetes.

In her 2002 memoir, Still Woman Enough, Lynn wrote that he was an alcoholic who cheated on her and beat her even when she reciprocated. But she stayed with him until his death and told NPR in 2010 that “he’s in there somewhere” in every song she wrote.

“We’d fight one day and be happy the next, so I mean … to me, it’s a good relationship,” she told NPR. “If you can’t argue, if you can’t say what you think – why, your relationship isn’t much anyway.”

Lynn has won numerous awards throughout her career, including three Grammys and many accolades from the Academy of Country Music. She won Grammys for her 1971 duet with Conway Twitty, “After the Fire is Gone,” and for 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 Miner’s Daughter” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998. She received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010, and in 2013 she was awarded the 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 about.”

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

“Work keeps you young,” she told Esquire in 2007. “I’ll never stop. And when I do, it will be right on stage. That will be it.

Lynn was hospitalized in 2017 after suffering a stroke at home. The following year, she broke her hip. Her health forced her to abandon the tour.

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 captured the ethos of her career:

“I’m still woman enough, I’ve still got what I need inside;

I know how to love, lose and survive;

It’s not much I haven’t seen, haven’t tried;

I’ve been knocked down, but I’ve never been out of a fight;

I am strong, but I am gentle;

Wise, but I am firm;

And let me tell you, when it comes to love;

I’m still woman enough.”

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