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Loretta Lynn Dies: Country Icon And Coal Miner’s Daughter Was 90

Deadline
Deadline
 2022-10-04
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Loretta Lynn , the country music icon who groundbreaking songs dealt candidly with poverty, women’s struggles and, in the great song “Coal Miner’s Daughter” her own life, died Tuesday at her home in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. She was 90.

Her death was announced by her family. In a statement, Lynn’s family said she died Tuesday at her home in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee.

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

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One of the greatest female singer-songwriters in country music history – arguable the greatest, certainly the most influential – Lynn chronicled her life and struggles over the course of a 60-year career, both in song and in the 1976 autobiography that became a hit 1980 movie — both titled Coal Miner’s Daughter — that earned Sissy Spacek an Oscar for her performance as Lynn. Tommy Lee Jones portrayed her husband of 48 years, Oliver Vanetta “Doolittle” Lynn, also known as Mooney.

Among Lynn’s classic songs, many told from the standpoint of a strong woman in a man’s world and some, like “The Pill,” offering controversial feminist slants unusual for country music of the era, are “Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind),” “Fist City,” “You Ain’t Woman Enough,” “One’s On The Way,” and many others.

Born Loretta Webb in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky on April 14, 1932, Lynn was indeed a coal miner’s daughter Father Ted would die of black lung disease at the age of 52 after Lynn and her young family moved away from Kentucky. Her family included younger sisters Crystal Gayle, who’s had 18 No. 1 country singles of her own, and Peggy Sue Webb, also a singer. Their brother Jay Lee Webb also had a brief chart career that began with “I Come Home a-Drinkin’ (To a Worn-Out Wife Like You),” an answer song to Lynn’s hit.

Lynn was only 13 — although she would sometimes claim 15 — when she married the man she’d call Doo or Doolittle (his other nickname, Mooney, was a reference to his occasional moonshining). While living in Washington state, Lynn taught herself guitar and began singing and playing locally. She recorded her first self-written song, “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl”, in February 1960.

Eventually settling in Nashville, Lynn soon became an integral part of the Grand Ol’ Opry scene, and in 1967 began a string of hits that included “Fist City,” “Your Squaw Is on the Warpath,” and “You’ve Just Stepped In (From Stepping Out on Me).”

Her signature song, “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” came in 1970, and that decade would see Lynn increasingly tackle controversial subjects in songs such as “The Pill,” “One’s On The Way” and “Rated X.”

Lynn also had a long and successful partnership with fellow hitmaking country stars Ernest Tubb and Conway Twitty.

In 1976 she wrote, with co-author George Vecsey, the autobiography that would take her story well beyond the boundaries of the country music world. Coal Miner’s Daughter , with its candid account of her often troubled marriage, childhood poverty, young motherhood and the grief she suffered with the 1963 death of her friend and mentor Patsy Cline, was a bestseller. The acclaimed 1980 film version directed by Michael Apted won Spacek an Academy Award and cemented Lynn’s place in popular culture.

Her friendship with Cline was chronicled in the 2018 Lifetime telefilm Patsy & Loretta , which starred Jessie Mueller as Lynn and Megan Hilty as Cline.

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Lynn continued to record and perform well into her 80s. In 2004 she collaborated with rock musician Jack White on her album Van Lear Rose , winning two Grammy Awards. She won three career Grammys among 18 nominations.

Lynn received the Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010, and “Coal Miner’s Daughter” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998.

In all, she would have 16 No. 1 singles — five were duets with Twitty — and 39 Top 10s on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart over the course of her career. Lynn also had eight gold albums including Coal Miner’s Daughter, three with Twitty and 1993’s Honky Tonk Angels, which she recorded with Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette.

Along with her sisters sisters Gayle and Webb, Lynn is survived by her daughters Patsy Lynn Russell, Peggy Lynn and Clara (Cissie) Marie Lynn; her son, Ernest Ray Lynn; as well as 17 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers the family asks for donations to be made to the Loretta Lynn Foundation. Information about a memorial service/celebration of life will be made available at a later date.

Erik Pedersen contributed to this report.

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