Country music star Loretta Lynn dies at 90

  • Songs like “The Pill” made her the “hillbilly feminist”
  • The autobiography “Coal Miner’s Daughter” became a hit film
  • Hits included “Fist City”, “Don’t Come Home A Drinkin'”

Oct 4 (Reuters) – Loretta Lynn, the coal miner’s daughter and moonshiner wife who became one of America’s biggest country music stars and one of the genre’s leading feminists, died on Tuesday in the age of 90, his family announced on Twitter.

Lynn died at her home in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, the family said in a statement posted to Twitter.

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

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“She showed us all how to speak the truth shamelessly,” country music singer-songwriter Carly Pearce wrote on Twitter.

“One of the best there will ever be. I’ll be singing ‘Dear Miss Loretta’ with a little extra love tonight at the @opry,” Pearce said, referring to the famed Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee.

In the male-dominated world of country music in the 1960s and 1970s, Lynn earned a reputation as a mountain feminist who was bold enough and talented enough to write her own songs. In “Rated X,” she sang about the inequalities in male-female relationships and her song “The Pill” celebrated the sexual freedom that birth control has given women. She also sang about womanizing husbands – a subject she knew personally.

Lynn told an interviewer that 14 of her songs had been banned by radio stations.

“I wasn’t the first woman in country music,” she told Esquire magazine in 2007. “I was just the first to stand up and say what I thought, what was the life. The others were afraid to do it.”

Lynn’s twangy voice was a regular feature of country music radio and honky-tonk jukeboxes in the 1960s and 1970s as she scored hits with songs such as “Fist City,” “Don’t Come Home a’Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind), “You Ain’t Woman Enough (to Take My Man)” and the autobiographical “Coal Miner’s Daughter. According to her website, Lynn had over 50 hits among the top 10.

Fame seemed unlikely for Lynn as she grew up in a coal-rich area of ​​Kentucky known as Butcher Holler, where her miner father died of black lung disease at the age of 52. Lynn said she was just 13 in 1948 when she married 23-year-old Oliver Lynn, and by the age of 18 she was a mother of four. Documents uncovered by the Associated Press, however, said she was 15 when she got married.

She and her husband – known as Doo, Doolittle and Mooney because of his involvement in the moonshine business – moved to Washington State in the 1950s and it was there that his musical career took off. started to flourish. On her 24th birthday, Doo gave Lynn a $17 guitar and lots of encouragement. She taught herself to play and started performing at radio stations. By 1960, she had a recording contract and a self-penned hit, “I’m a Honky-Tonk Girl.”

The couple traveled the United States visiting radio stations to promote their work before reuniting in the country music capital of Nashville, Tennessee.

Lynn’s relationship with Doolittle was complicated and marred by his drinking and cheating, drug addiction, and mutual abuse.

“He never hit me once that I didn’t hit him back twice,” she said in a CBS interview.

But before her death in 1996, Lynn put her career aside for five years to stay home and care for her husband.

“I was devastated,” she said. “I was lost without him. I knew I had to keep going but it was hard.”

Lynn, whose sister Crystal Gayle also became a country star, was the first woman to win the Country Music Association’s “Entertainer of the Year” award in 1972. She won seven more CMA awards and was voted to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1988. and won 12 Academy of Country Music Awards.

She has won three Grammy Awards as an artist – one for the song “After the Fire Is Gone” with longtime partner Conway Twitty and two in 2004 for her work on the album “Van Lear Rose”, a collaboration with rocker Jack White of the White Stripes on which she wrote or co-wrote every song.

Lynn’s 1976 autobiography “Coal Miner’s Daughter” made the New York Times bestseller list and Sissy Spacek won an Oscar for portraying her in a film of the same name based on the book.

Much of the film was shot on Lynn’s 1,500-acre (600-hectare) ranch, 120 km west of Nashville, where she maintained a southern mansion. Lynn and her husband bought the town of Hurricane Mills – post office and all – to start the property on which they raised corn and purebred horses and held concerts.

In 2003, Lynn was honored by the Kennedy Center for her contribution to American culture and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010. Three years later, President Barack Obama presented her with a Presidential Medal of the freedom.

Lynn suffered a stroke in May 2017, just over two weeks after celebrating her 85th birthday with a two-night adventure at the Grand Ole Opry’s historic Ryman Auditorium, and a broken hip in January 2018.

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Written by Bill Trott; Reporting by Brendan O’Brien and Katharine Jackson; Additional reporting by Danielle Broadway; Editing by Diane Craft and Jonathan Oatis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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