Loretta Lynn Dead At 90

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Loretta Lynn Dead At 90

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Loretta Lynn has died at 90. A statement from her family reads: “Our precious mom, Loretta Lynn, passed away peacefully this morning, October 4th, in her sleep at home at her beloved ranch in Hurricane Mills.”

Lynn was born Loretta Webb into poverty in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky in 1932. She was one of eight children. Her father was a coal miner and farmer who died of black lung at 52. When she was 15, Loretta married Oliver “Doolittle” Lynn, and they moved to rural Washington so that he could work in the logging business. The couple had six children, and they stayed together until Oliver died in 1996. While staying home with their kids, Loretta bought a guitar and taught herself to play and to write songs. She started a band, began playing local bars, and released “I’m A Honky Tonk Girl,” her first single, in 1960. The song became a country hit, and Loretta moved to Nashville to start a music career.

Loretta Lynn signed with Decca Records, and she began working with the massively important country producer Owen Bradley. She released her debut album Loretta Lynn Sings in 1963. A number of hits followed. Loretto cranked out a steady stream of singles through the ’60s, and most of them landed high on the Billboard country chart. Loretta first topped that chart with her 1966 single “Don’t Come Home A Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind)” — a remarkably assertive and sexually frank single that encapsulated Loretta’s tough persona. She often wrote her own songs, starting with the 1966 Vietnam lament “Dear Uncle Sam.”

Through the ’60s and ’70s, Loretta Lynn made many more country hits that went on to become classics, including “Fist City,” “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “One’s On The Way,” “Rated ‘X,'” and “Trouble In Paradise,” as well as a number of hugely successful duets with Conway Twitty and a tribute album dedicated to her late friend Patsy Cline. Loretta also courted controversy with songs like the birth control anthem “The Pill.” That single only made it to #5 on the country chart, as some stations refused to play it, but it became Lynn’s biggest-ever crossover success, reaching #70 on the Billboard Hot 100.

In 1976, Loretta Lynn published her autobiography Coal Miner’s Daughter. Director Michael Apted adapted that book into a 1980 film, with Sissy Spacek as Loretta, Tommy Lee Jones as her husband, and Levon Helm as her father. The movie was one of the year’s biggest hits, and it was nominated for Best Picture at the Oscar. Sissy Spacek won Best Actress.

Lynn’s commercial success gradually slowed down through the ’80s, but by then, she was widely acknowledged as a country music legend. She continued to tour and record, and she enjoyed several comebacks. In 1993, for instance, Lynn teamed up with Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette on the big-selling collaborative album Honky Tonk Angels. In 2004, Lynn worked with producer Jack White on the critically acclaimed album Van Lear Rose. Lynn continued to tour and record until the end of her life. Last year, Lynn released Still Woman Enough, her 46th and final studio album; it featured contributions from Carrie Underwood, Reba McEntire, Tanya Tucker, and Margo Price.

Below, check out some of Loretta Lynn’s classics.

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