Submitted by Don Graham
From Butcher Holler to the Grand Ole Opry to the Country Music Hall of Fame, Loretta has completed her earthly journey. Lynn passed away at her home in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, on October 4th, 2022.
Born Loretta Webb in a one-room rural Kentucky cabin in 1932, Lynn was one of eight siblings and the daughter of a coal miner – a fact that led to her signature song, 1970’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter”. Loretta got her first guitar in 1953 and started a band with her brother Jay Lee, Loretta and the Trailblazers. She began writing her own songs and her debut single, I’m a Honky-Tonk Girl, was released in 1960. She and Oliver marketed the single by themselves driving from one country radio station to another. “Because we were too poor to stay in hotels, we slept in the car and ate baloney and cheese sandwiches in the parks … we were on the road three months.” The song was a success, reaching the Country Top 20, and led to her being signed by a major label, Decca.
She topped the US country charts 16 times and was nominated for 18 Grammy awards, winning three and recorded 60 studio albums. The large number of albums is a result of releasing two and sometimes as many as four albums each year between 1964 and 1976. She teamed up with country legends like Conway Twitty, with whom she recorded 10 duet albums, and Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette for the 1993 album Honky Tonk Angels as well as recording a tribute album to her friend Patsy Cline after Cline was killed in a 1963 plane crash.
Loretta’s releases slowed down a bit in the 1980s, but her album Van Lear Rose, produced by the White Stripes’ Jack White became her best-performing album in the US charts then to date, and was followed by her highest-charting album ever, 2016’s Full Circle, with duets with Willie Nelson and Elvis Costello. Her most recent album is 2018’s Wouldn’t It Be Great.
Loretta was married at the tender age of 15 to 21-year-old Oliver (Dolittle) Lynn, only a month after they met. Despite Dolittle’s wandering eye and battle with alcoholism, the two remained together for 48 years, until Oliver died in 1996. They had six children together, three of them before Lynn was 20.
Over the course of her 60-year career Loretta Lynn racked up amassed an amazing 51 Top 10 hits, earned countless accoladesfrom GRAMMY awards to induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and forged paths for women everywhere with songs like “Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind),” “Fist City” and “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”
Thanks to the Oscar-winning 1980 film Coal Miner’s Daughter Lynn’s story and songs were brought to an ever widening audience and influenced and whole generation of songwriters and artists.
Even in her 80s, Loretta kept writing new songs and, in 2016, returned to the charts with the GRAMMY-nominated Full Circle, the first in a series of critically acclaimed albums produced by her daughter, Patsy Lynn Russell, and John Carter Cash at Cash Cabin Studio in Hendersonville, Tennessee. That was followed up with the seasonal classic White Christmas Blue (2016) and 2018’s GRAMMY-nominated Wouldn’t It Be Great, a combination of newly written songs and fresh interpretations of her catalog. In 2021, the American music icon released Still Woman Enough, a celebration of women in country music; her 50th studio album (not including her ten studio duet collaborations with Conway Twitty), Still Woman Enough featured a title track co-written with Patsy Lynn Russell and a deeply emotional “Coal Miner’s Daughter Recitation,”
She joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1962 and won four GRAMMY awards, seven American Music Awards and eight Country Music Association awards. She was the first female to win the Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music awards for Entertainer of the Year and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1988, the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2008, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013. Throughout her career she sold over 45 million albums.
Loretta was pre-deceased by her husband of 48 years Oliver Vanetta “Doolittle” Lynn, her daughter Betty Sue Lynn and son Jack Benny Lynn and is survived by her daughters Patsy Lynn Russell, Peggy Lynn, Clara (Cissie) Marie Lynn and her son Ernest Ray Lynn as well as grandchildren Lori Lynn Smith, Ethan Lyell, Elizabeth Braun, Tayla Lynn, Jack Lynn, Ernest Ray Lynn Jr., Katherine Condya, Alexandria Lynn, Jasyntha Connelly, Megan Horkins, Anthony Brutto, Jason Lynn, Wesley Lynn, Levi Lynn, Emmy Rose Russell, David Russell, Lucca Marchetti and step grandchildren David Greer, Jennifer Russell, Melody Russell and Natalie Rapp, and her great-grandchildren. Information about a memorial service/celebration of life willbe announced at a later date.
Listen and watch this poignant video of Loretta Lynn – Lay Me Down (Official Music Video) ft. Willie Nelson” – https://youtu.be/dfZxnILzN4c