NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Loretta Lynn, the daughter of the Kentucky coal miner whose outspoken songs about life and love as a woman in Appalachia lifted her out of poverty and made her a pillar of country music, has died. She was 90.
In a statement to The Associated Press, Lynn’s family said she died Tuesday at their home in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee.
Lynn already had four children before launching her career in the early 1960s, and her songs reflected her pride in her rural Kentucky background.
As a songwriter, she created the personality of a defiantly tough woman, a contrast to the stereotypical image of most country singers. The Country Music Hall of Famer wrote fearlessly about sex and love, cheating husbands, divorce and birth control, and sometimes got into trouble with radio programmers for material even rock artists once shied away from.
Her biggest hits came in the 1960s and 70s, including “Coal Miner’s Daughter”, “You Ain’t Woman Enough”, “The Pill”, “Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind), “Rated X” and “You’re Looking at Country.” She was known for appearing in floor-length, baggy dresses with intricate embroidery or rhinestones, many of which were designed by her longtime personal assistant and designer, Tim Cobb.
Her honesty and unique place in country music were rewarded. She was the first woman ever to be named Entertainer of the Year at both of the genre’s major awards shows, first in 1972 by the Country Music Association and three years later by the Academy of Country Music.
“It was what I wanted to hear and what I knew other women wanted to hear, too,” Lynn told AP in 2016. “I didn’t write for the men; I wrote for us women. And the men loved it too.”
In 1969, she published her autobiography, Coal Miner’s Daughter, which helped her reach her widest audience yet.
“We were poor but we had love/That’s the only thing Daddy did/He shoveled coal to make a poor man’s dollar,” she sang.
Coal Miner’s Daughter, also the title of her 1976 book, was made into a 1980 film of the same name. Sissy Spacek’s portrayal of Lynn earned her an Oscar and the film was also nominated for Best Picture.
Long past her commercial peak, Lynn won two Grammys for her 2005 album Van Lear Rose, which featured 13 songs she wrote, including “Portland, Oregon,” about a drunken one-night stand. “Van Lear Rose” was a collaboration with rocker Jack White, who produced the album and played the guitar parts.
Born Loretta Webb, the second of eight children, she claimed her birthplace was Metzger Holler near the coal mining town of Van Lear in the mountains of eastern Kentucky. But there really was no butcher Holler. She later told a reporter that she made up the name for the song’s purposes based on the names of families living there.
Her father played the banjo, her mother played the guitar, and she grew up listening to the songs of the Carter Family.
“I think I was singing when I was born,” she told the AP in 2016. “Daddy used to come out on the porch where I would sing and rock the babies to sleep. He said, ‘Loretta, shut up. People all over this area can hear you.’ And I said, ‘Daddy, what difference does it make? They’re all my cousins.’”
She wrote in her autobiography that she was 13 when she married Oliver “Mooney” Lynn, but the AP later discovered state records showing she was 15. Tommy Lee Jones played Mooney Lynn in the biopic.
Her husband, whom she nicknamed “Doo” or “Doolittle,” pushed her to sing professionally and encouraged her early career. With his help, she landed a record deal with Decca Records, later MCA, and performed on stage at the Grand Ole Opry. Lynn wrote her first hit single “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl” which was released in 1960.
She also teamed up with singer Conway Twitty to form one of country music’s most popular duos, with hits like “Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man” and “After the Fire is Gone” earning them a Grammy Award. Their duets and singles have always been mainstream country, not crossover or pop-tinged.
She was named Artist of the Decade by the Academy of Country Music in the 1970s and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1988.
In “Fist City,” Lynn threatens a hair-raising fistfight if another woman doesn’t stay away from her husband: “I’m here to tell you girl to fire my husband/if you don’t want it go to fist.” City.” This strong-willed but traditional country woman reappears on other Lynn songs. In “The Pill,” a song about sex and birth control, Lynn writes about how she’s tired of being cooped up at home babysitting: “The good feeling comes easy now/Since I’ve been on the pill,” writes she sang.
She moved to Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, outside of Nashville, in the 1990s, where she established a ranch with a replica of her childhood home and a museum that is a popular roadside tourist attraction. The clothes she was known for are there too.
Lynn knew her songs were groundbreaking, especially for country music, but she was just writing the truth that so many country women like her had experienced.
“I could see other women going through the same thing because I was working in the clubs. I wasn’t the only one who lived that life, and I’m not the only one who will live what I write today,” she told The AP in 1995.
Even in her later years, Lynn never seemed to stop writing, and in 2014 she scored a multi-album deal with Legacy Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment. In 2017, she suffered a stroke that forced her to postpone her shows.
She and her husband were married for almost 50 years before he died in 1996. They had six children: Betty, Jack, Ernest and Clara, and then twins Patsy and Peggy. She had 17 grandchildren and four step-grandchildren.
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https://wgntv.com/news/nexstar-media-wire/loretta-lynn-coal-miners-daughter-and-country-queen-dies/ Loretta Lynn, a miner’s daughter and Queen of the Country, dies