Loretta Lynn, the daughter of a Kentucky miner whose outspoken songs about life and love as a woman in the Appalachian Mountains lifted her out of poverty and made her a country music mainstay, has died. She was 90 years old.
In a statement sent to The Associated Press, Lynn's family said she died Tuesday at her home in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee.
"Our loving mother, Loretta Lynn, passed away peacefully this morning on October 4 in her sleep at home on her beloved ranch in Hurricane Mills," the family said in the letter. They asked for respect for her privacy in mourning her and said funeral plans will be announced at a later date.
Lynn already had four children when she began her career in the early 1960s, and her songs reflected her pride in her rural Kentucky origins.
As a songwriter she created a character of a tough and challenging woman, a contrast to the stereotypical image of most female country singers. A Country Music Hall of Fame inductee, Lynn fearlessly wrote about sex and love, cheating spouses, divorce and birth control, eventually getting in trouble with broadcasters for material that made even rockers cringe.
His 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 famous for singing in long gowns with full skirts with elaborate embroidery and sparkles, many created by her assistant and designer for years, Tim Cobb.
His honesty and unique place in country music paid off. She was the first woman to be named Entertainer of the Year at both of the genre's top awards, first by the Country Music Association in 1972 and then by the Academy of Country Music three years later.
“That was what I wanted to hear and what I knew other women wanted to hear too,” Lynn told the AP in 2016. “I wasn't writing for the men, I was writing for us women. And the men loved it too.”
In 1969, he published his autobiography “Coal Miner's Daughter”, which helped him reach an even wider audience.
“We were poor but we had love/That's the one thing Daddy made sure of/He shoveled coal to make a poor man's dollar” poor).
“Coal Miner's Daughter,” which is also the title of her 1976 book, was made into a movie of the same name in 1980. Sissy Spacek's portrayal of Lynn earned her an Academy Award and the film was also nominated for best picture. .
Long after her biggest commercial success, Lynn won two Grammy Awards in 2005 for her album "Van Lear Rose," for 13 songs she wrote, including "Portland, Oregon," about a one-night stand under the influence of alcohol. . "Van Lear Rose" was a collaboration with rocker Jack White, who produced the album and played guitar.
Her given name was Loretta Webb, the second of eight children, she said she was born in Butcher Holler, near the mining town of Van Lear in the mountains of eastern Kentucky. Butcher Holler didn't really exist. She later told a reporter that she made up the name for song purposes based on the names of the families who lived there.
His father played the banjo, his mother played the guitar, and he grew up listening to Carter Family songs. Her younger sister, Crystal Gayle, is another Grammy Award-winning country singer, with hits like "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue" and "Half the Way." Lynn's daughter, Patsy Lynn Russell, is also a songwriter and produced some of her albums.
“I've been singing since I was born,” Loretta Lynn told AP in 2016. “Daddy used to go out on the porch where I would sing and lull the babies to sleep. He was like, 'Loretta, shut that big mouth. People can hear all that screaming.' And I was like, 'Daddy, what does it matter? They are all my cousins.'”
She wrote in her autobiography that she was 13 when she married Oliver "Mooney" Lynn, but the AP later discovered state files that said she was 15. Tommy Lee Jones played Mooney Lynn in the biopic.
Her husband, whom she called "Doo" or "Doolittle," encouraged her to sing professionally and helped promote her early career. With her help, he landed a record deal with Decca Records, later called MCA, and performed onstage at the Grand Ole Opry. Lynn wrote her first hit single "I'm a Honky Tonk Girl", released in 1960.
He also teamed up with country singer Conway Twitty to form one of the genre's most popular duos with hits like "Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man" and "After the Fire is Gone," which earned them a Grammy. Lynn's duets and solo albums were always country, not mixed with other genres like pop.
In her early days, when she began singing at the Grand Ole Opry, country star Patsy Cline was a mentor to Lynn.
The Academy of Country Music named her Artist of the 1970s, and she was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1988. She won four Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2008, received one of the Kennedy Center Honors in 2003 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013.
In “Fist City,” Lynn threatens a bare-knuckle fight if a woman doesn't walk away from her man. That strong, determined but traditional woman reappears in other Lynn songs. In “The Pill,” a song about sex and birth control, Lynn writes that she's tired of being stuck at home taking care of babies: “The feelin' good comes easy now/Since I've got the pill.” easy now/Since I have the pill), she sang.
He moved to Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, outside of Nashville, in the 1990s, where he set up a ranch complete with a replica of his childhood home and a museum that is popular with road travelers. Her famous dresses are exhibited there.
Lynn knew her songs were groundbreaking, especially for country music, but she was simply writing the truth that so many rural women like her experienced.
“I could see that other women were going through the same thing, because I worked in the clubs. I was not the only one who was living that life and I am not the only one who is going to live what I am writing today,” she told the AP in 1995.
Even in her later years, Lynn never stopped writing, landing a multi-album deal in 2014 with Legacy Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment. In 2017 she suffered a stroke that forced her to stop touring, but she released her 50th solo studio album “Still Woman Enough” in 2021.
She and her husband were married for nearly 50 years until he died in 1996. They had six children together: Betty, Jack, Ernest, Clara, and twins Patsy and Peggy. Lynn had 17 grandchildren and four step-grandchildren.