The beloved country music singer Loretta Lynn died on Tuesday, October 4, 2022, at the age of 90. Loretta passed away in her sleep at her home in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. She was not just a music icon but a symbol of perseverance.
The performer was born in 1932 in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky. This is the heart of coal country, and Loretta Lynn was famously the daughter of a miner. Her most iconic song, “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” was released in 1970. Her 1976 autobiography bore the same title, which became Lynn’s epithet.
Married at only 15, Lynn was a mother at 16 and became a grandmother in her 30’s. Her rocky marriage to Oliver Vanetta Lynn, Jr. lasted for 48 years and ended with his death in 1996. He was constantly unfaithful to his wife, not only a womanizer but also a bootlegger. Yet he successfully managed her career and turned Lynn into a superstar.
The country queen’s story was so extraordinary that it was made into a celebrated movie. Released in 1980, the Coal Miner’s Daughter was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Sissy Spacek took home the prize for Best Actress for her mesmerizing performance as Loretta Lynn.
In addition to dominating country music with her unmistakable Kentucky drawl, Lynn was also a master of the honky-tonk and gospel genres. Socially, she broke barriers for women in the 1960s and ‘70s. Celebrated cartoonist Shel Silverstein wrote the tracks “Hey Loretta” and “One’s on the Way” for Lynn, which became anthems of feminism and liberation.
Oliver and Loretta Lynn moved to Nashville in the early 1960s. It was here that the singer began her storied friendship with fellow legend Patsy Cline. It was also the time that Lynn became much more assertive and began to stand up to her husband. Several of her songs were based on his behavior, and she did not hold anything back. In 2016 she shared in an interview, “I wrote about my heartaches, I wrote about everything.”
Loretta Lynn is survived by her younger sister, Crystal Gale (also a country singer), three daughters, a son, and 17 grandchildren.