NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Loretta Lynn, the daughter of a Kentucky coal miner 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. He is 90 years old.
In a statement provided to The Associated Press, Lynn’s family said she died Tuesday at her home in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee.
Lynn had four children before starting her career in the early 1960s, and her songs reflect her pride in her rural Kentucky backdrop.
As a songwriter, she shaped the persona of a tough woman who defiedly contrasted the stereotypical image of most female country singers. The Country Music Hall of Famer writes fearlessly about sex and love, cheating husbands, divorce and birth control, and occasionally gets into trouble with radio programmers for material that even rock singers once avoided.
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 is known for appearing in floor-length, wide dresses with intricate embroidery or rhinestones, many of which were created by her personal assistant and longtime designer Tim Cobb.
His honesty and unique place in country music is appreciated. She was the first woman ever to be named an entertainer of the year at two of the genre’s major award shows, first by the Country Music Association in 1972 and then by the Academy of Country Music three years later.
“That’s what I want to hear and what I know other women want to hear too.”Lynn told the APin 2016. “I don’t write for men; I write for us women. And the guys like it too.”
In 1969, she released her autobiography “The Coal Miner’s Daughter,” which helped her reach the widest audience.
“We’re poor but we have love/That’s the only thing Daddy believes in/He’s shoveling coal to make dollars for the poor,” she sings.
“Coal Miner’s Daughter,” also the title of his 1976 book, was made into the 1980 film 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 features 13 songs she wrote, including “Portland, Oregon” about a drunken one-night stand. “Van Lear Rose” is a collaboration with rocker Jack White, who produced the album and played guitar parts.
Born Loretta Webb, the second of eight children, she claims her birthplace was Butcher Holler, near the coal mining company town of Van Lear in the mountains of eastern Kentucky. However, there really is no Butcher Holler. He later told a reporter that he made up a name for the song’s purposes based on the names of the families who lived there.
His father played the banjo, his mother played the guitar and he was raised on the Carter Family songs.
“I sang when I was born, I think,” he told the AP in 2016. “Dad used to be out on the porch where I would sing and rock the baby to sleep. He would say, ‘Loretta, shut up that big mouth. People all over this scream can hear you.’ And I said, ‘Dad, what’s the difference? They are all my cousins.’”
She wrote in her autobiography that she was 13 when she married Oliver “Mooney” Lynn, but the APthen found country recordswhich indicates he is 15 years old. Tommy Lee Jones plays Mooney Lynn in the biopic.
Her husband, whom she calls “Doo” or “Doolittle,” urged her to sing professionally and help promote her early career. With her help, he landed a record deal with Decca Records, then MCA, and performed on the Grand Ole Opry stage. Lynn wrote her first hit single, “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl,” released in 1960.
He also cooperates withsinger Conway Twitterto form one of the most popular duos in country music with hits like “Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man” and “After the Fire is Gone,” which earned them a Grammy Award. Their duets, and recorded singles, have always been country mainstream and not crossover or pop-tinged.
The Academy of Country Music selected him as the artist of the decade for the 1970s, and he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1988.
In “Fist City,” Lynn threatens a fistfight if the other woman won’t stay away from her husband: “I’m here to tell you, gal, to lay off my man/If you won’t go to Boxing City.” The strong-willed but traditional countrywoman reappears in other Lynn songs. In “The Pill”, a song about sex and birth control, Lynn writes about how she is sick of being stuck at home caring for a baby: “The joys are easy now/Because I’ve got the pills,” she sings.
He moved to Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, outside Nashville, in the 1990s, where he founded a farm complete with a replica of his childhood home and a museum that is a popular roadside tourist stop. The dress she was wearing was also there.
Lynn knows that her songs are pioneers, especially for country music, but she simply writes the truth that many rural women like her experience.
“I can see that other women are going through the same thing, because I work at the club. I’m not the only one living that life and I’m not the only one who will live today what I write,” he told The AP in 1995.
Even in the years that followed, Lynn never seemed to stop writing, scoring a multi-album deal in 2014 with Legacy Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment. In 2017, he suffer a stroke which forced him to postpone his show.
She and her husband have been married for almost 50 years before he died in 1996. They have six children: Betty, Jack, Ernest and Clara, and later twins Patsy and Peggy. He has 17 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.