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Loretta Lynn dies at age 90: Country singer behind Coal Miner’s Daughter

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Loretta Lynn, the Kentucky coal miner’s daughter whose frank songs about life and love as a woman in Appalachia pulled her out of poverty and made her a pillar of country music, has died. She was 90.

In a statement provided to The Associated Press, Lynn’s family said she died Tuesday at her 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.

Her biggest hits came in the 1960s and ’70s, including Coal Mine’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 also portrayed by Sissy Spacek in the 1980 movie Coal Miner’s Daughter basked on the singer’s best-selling book.

Sad loss: Loretta Lynn, the Kentucky coal miner’s daughter whose frank songs about life and love as a woman in Appalachia pulled her out of poverty and made her a pillar of country music, has died. She was 90. Seen in September 2000 

She was a Grammy, ACM and CMA winner. In 2013 she was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama. 

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During the ceremony Obama said Lynn ‘gave voice to a generation, singing what no one wanted to talk about and saying what no one wanted to think about.’

As a songwriter, she crafted a persona of a defiantly tough woman, a contrast to the stereotypical image of most female country singers. 

The Country Music Hall of Famer wrote fearlessly about sex and love, cheating husbands, divorce and birth control and sometimes got in trouble with radio programmers for material from which even rock performers once shied away.

She was known for appearing in floor-length, wide gowns with elaborate embroidery or rhinestones, many created by her longtime personal assistant and designer Tim Cobb.

Hard to say goodbye: In a statement provided to The Associated Press, Lynn's family said she died Tuesday at her home in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee; seen in 1978

Hard to say goodbye: In a statement provided to The Associated Press, Lynn’s family said she died Tuesday at her home in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee; seen in 1978

Kentucky cool: Lynn already had four children before launching her career in the early 1960s, and her songs reflected her pride in her rural Kentucky background. Seen with husband Oliver 'Mooney' Lynn aka Doo in 1980

Kentucky cool: Lynn already had four children before launching her career in the early 1960s, and her songs reflected her pride in her rural Kentucky background. Seen with husband Oliver ‘Mooney’ Lynn aka Doo in 1980

Family first: They had six children: Betty, Jack, Ernest and Clara, and then twins Patsy and Peggy, as Loretta is seen in an Instagram post from December 24, 2020  with four of her children as they held up photos of Doo and their two siblings who had passed away

Family first: They had six children: Betty, Jack, Ernest and Clara, and then twins Patsy and Peggy, as Loretta is seen in an Instagram post from December 24, 2020  with four of her children as they held up photos of Doo and their two siblings who had passed away

Her honesty and unique place in country music was rewarded. 

She was the first woman ever named entertainer of the year at the genre’s two major awards shows, first by the Country Music Association in 1972 and then by the Academy of Country Music three years later.

‘It was what I wanted to hear and what I knew other women wanted to hear, too,’ Lynn told the AP in 2016. ‘I didn´t write for the men; I wrote for us women. And the men loved it, too.’

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Loretta was the eldest daughter and second child born to Clara Marie and Melvin Theodore ‘Ted’ Webb who shared eight total.

Her father was a coal miner and subsistence farmer who died at age 52 of black lung disease in February 1959. 

In 1969, she released her autobiographical Coal Miner’s Daughter, which helped her reach her widest audience yet.

Rising star: In 1969, she released her autobiographical Coal Miner's Daughter, which helped her reach her widest audience yet, she is pictured in 1965

Rising star: In 1969, she released her autobiographical Coal Miner’s Daughter, which helped her reach her widest audience yet, she is pictured in 1965

Hitmaker: Her biggest hits came in the 1960s and '70s, including 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. Seen in 2016

Hitmaker: Her biggest hits came in the 1960s and ’70s, including 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. Seen in 2016

At last: Long after her commercial peak, Lynn won two Grammys in February 2005 (pictured) for her album Van Lear Rose, which featured 13 songs she wrote, including Portland, Oregon about a drunken one-night stand

At last: Long after her commercial peak, Lynn won two Grammys in February 2005 (pictured) for her album Van Lear Rose, which featured 13 songs she wrote, including Portland, Oregon about a drunken one-night stand

‘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,’ she sang.

Coal Miner’s Daughter, also the title of her 1976 book, was made into a 1980 movie of the same name. 

Sissy Spacek’s portrayal of Lynn won her an Academy Award and the film was also nominated for best picture.

Long after her commercial peak, Lynn won two Grammys in 2005 for her album Van Lear Rose, which featured 13 songs she wrote, including Portland, Oregon about a drunken one-night stand. 

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Van Lear Rose was a collaboration with rocker Jack White, who produced the album and played the guitar parts.

Golden: Coal Miner´s Daughter, also the title of her 1976 book, was made into a 1980 movie of the same name as Sissy Spacek's portrayal of Lynn won her an Academy Award and the film was also nominated for best picture, they are seen together in March 1981

Golden: Coal Miner´s Daughter, also the title of her 1976 book, was made into a 1980 movie of the same name as Sissy Spacek’s portrayal of Lynn won her an Academy Award and the film was also nominated for best picture, they are seen together in March 1981

An honor: As a songwriter, she crafted a persona of a defiantly tough woman, a contrast to the stereotypical image of most female country singers. The Country Music Hall of Famer wrote fearlessly about sex and love, cheating husbands, divorce. Seen getting the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2013 (pictured)

An honor: As a songwriter, she crafted a persona of a defiantly tough woman, a contrast to the stereotypical image of most female country singers. The Country Music Hall of Famer wrote fearlessly about sex and love, cheating husbands, divorce. Seen getting the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2013 (pictured)

Born Loretta Webb, she claimed her birthplace was Butcher Holler, near the coal mining company town of Van Lear in the mountains of east Kentucky. 

There really wasn’t a Butcher Holler, however. She later told a reporter that she made up the name for the purposes of the song based on the names of the families that lived there.

Her daddy played the banjo, her mama played the guitar and she grew up on the songs of the Carter Family.

‘I was singing when I was born, I think,’ she told the AP in 2016.

She came from a large family: Born Loretta Webb, the second of eight children, she claimed her birthplace was Butcher Holler, near the coal mining company town of Van Lear in the mountains of east Kentucky. Seen in 2016

She came from a large family: Born Loretta Webb, the second of eight children, she claimed her birthplace was Butcher Holler, near the coal mining company town of Van Lear in the mountains of east Kentucky. Seen in 2016

Longtime love: She wrote in her autobiography that she was 13 when she got married to Oliver 'Mooney' Lynn, but the AP later discovered state records that showed she was 15, as the two are seen together in October 1982

Longtime love: She wrote in her autobiography that she was 13 when she got married to Oliver ‘Mooney’ Lynn, but the AP later discovered state records that showed she was 15, as the two are seen together in October 1982

‘Daddy used to come out on the porch where I would be singing and rocking the babies to sleep. He’d say, “Loretta, shut that big mouth. People all over this holler can hear you.” And I said, “Daddy, what difference does it make? They are all my cousins.”‘ 

She wrote in her autobiography that she was 13 when she got married to Oliver ‘Mooney’ Lynn, but the AP later discovered state records that showed she was 15. Tommy Lee Jones played Mooney Lynn in the biopic.

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Her husband, whom she called ‘Doo’ or ‘Doolittle,’ urged her to sing professionally and helped promote her early career. With his help, she earned a recording contract with Decca Records, later MCA, and performed on the Grand Ole Opry stage. Lynn wrote her first hit single, ‘I´m a Honky Tonk Girl,’ released in 1960.

Stunning: The Academy of Country Music chose her as the artist of the decade for the 1970s, and she was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1988, she is seen in the 70s

Stunning: The Academy of Country Music chose her as the artist of the decade for the 1970s, and she was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1988, she is seen in the 70s

Legend: She is pictured performing at the Country Music Festival at Wembley Stadium in London back in January 1985 (

Legend: She is pictured performing at the Country Music Festival at Wembley Stadium in London back in January 1985 (

She also teamed up with singer Conway Twitty to form one of the most popular duos in country music with hits such as ‘Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man’ and ‘After the Fire is Gone,’ which earned them a Grammy Award. Their duets, and her single records, were always mainstream country and not crossover or pop-tinged.

The Academy of Country Music chose her as the artist of the decade for the 1970s, and she was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1988.

In ‘Fist City,’ Lynn threatens a hair-pulling fistfight if another woman won´t stay away from her man: ‘I´m here to tell you, gal, to lay off of my man/If you don´t want to go to Fist City.’ That strong-willed but traditional country woman reappears in other Lynn songs. In ‘The Pill,’ a song about sex and birth control, Lynn writes about how she´s sick of being trapped at home to take care of babies: ‘The feelin´ good comes easy now/Since I´ve got the pill,’ she sang.

Working relationship: She also teamed up with singer Conway Twitty to form one of the most popular duos in country music with hits such as 'Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man' and 'After the Fire is Gone,' which earned them a Grammy Award, they are seen in July 1973

Working relationship: She also teamed up with singer Conway Twitty to form one of the most popular duos in country music with hits such as ‘Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man’ and ‘After the Fire is Gone,’ which earned them a Grammy Award, they are seen in July 1973

A longtime country music friend: Lynn with musician Kid Rock in August 2020

A longtime country music friend: Lynn with musician Kid Rock in August 2020

She moved to Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, outside of Nashville, in the 1990s, where she set up a ranch complete with a replica of her childhood home and a museum that is a popular roadside tourist stop. The dresses she was known for wearing are there, too.

Lynn knew that her songs were trailblazing, especially for country music, but she was just writing the truth that so many rural women like her experienced.

‘I could see that other women was goin´ through the same thing, `cause I worked the clubs. I wasn´t the only one that was livin´ that life and I´m not the only one that´s gonna be livin´ today what I´m writin’,’ she told The AP in 1995.

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Even into her later years, Lynn never seemed to stop writing, scoring 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 postpone her shows.

In early 2021, she released her incredible 50th album titled Still Woman Enough at the age of 89.

She credited her grind mentality to her longevity as she told Esquire in 2007: ‘Working keeps you young.  I ain’t ever gonna stop. And when I do, it’s gonna be right on stage. That’ll be it.’

Lynn and her husband were married nearly 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.

A regal lady: Here she is see in a gold gown on a throne for her 50th album Still Woman Enough released in March 2021

A regal lady: Here she is see in a gold gown on a throne for her 50th album Still Woman Enough released in March 2021

Source: Daily Mail

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