Loretta Lynn biography
Born Loretta Webb on April 14, 1932, in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, Loretta Lynn wrote the song 'Coal Miner's Daughter,' wrote a book by the same name, and then had her life story depicted in the film. A member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and named Female Vocalist of Year from the CMA, Loretta Lynn reinvigorated her career in 2004 with Van Lear Rose, produced by Jack White.
Born Loretta Webb on April 14, 1932 (some sources say 1935), in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, Loretta Lynn grew up in a small cabin in a poor Appalachian coal mining community. The second of eight children, Lynn began singing in church at a young age. Her younger sister, Brenda Gayle Webb, also went on to become a singer, performing as Crystal Gayle.
Lynn married Oliver "Mooney" Lynn just a few months before her 14th birthday in January 1948. The following year, she and her husband moved to Washington State, where he hoped to find better work opportunities. Lynn stayed home to look after their growing family. The couple had four children together by the time Lynn turned 18. Encouraged by her husband, Lynn decided to pursue her interest in music. She landed a contract with Zero Records in 1959, and her first single was "I'm a Honky Tonk Girl." To promote the song, the Lynns traveled to different country music radio stations, urging them to play it. Their efforts paid off—the song became a minor hit in 1960.
Moving to Nashville, Tennessee, in late 1960, Lynn worked with Teddy and Doyle Wilburn, who owned a music publishing company and performed as the Wilburn Brothers. This soon led to a contract with Decca Records. She scored her first big hit with 1962's "Success."
During her early days in Nashville, she befriended singer Patsy Cline. Cline helped the naive young singer navigate the tricky world of country music. Lynn was heartbroken when Cline was killed in a 1963 plane crash. "When Patsy died, my God, not only did I lose my best girlfriend, but I lost a great person that was taking care of me. I thought, Now somebody will whip me for sure," Lynn later told Entertainment Weekly.
In 1964, Lynn scored a string of top 10 country hits, including "Wine, Women, and Song" and "Blue Kentucky Girl." Soon recording her own material, Lynn told the stories about all sorts of relationships. The singer had a talent for capturing the everyday struggles of wives and mothers in her songs, while injecting them with her own brand of humor. She, however, did not shy away from more controversial material, tackling the Vietnam War in her 1966 hit "Dear Uncle Sam."
Lynn reached the top of the country charts with "You Ain't Woman Enough (to Take My Man)" in 1967. That same year, Lynn won the award for Female Vocalist of Year from the Country Music Association. She continued to enjoy great success with songs featuring an assertive yet humorous female perspective. "Don't Come Home A 'Drinkin (with Lovin' on Your Mind)" involved a wife telling her husband to forget any amorous intentions, which she penned with country star Kitty Wells.
Another classic Lynn tune was "Fist City," a lyrical tell-off from one woman to another over her man.
Lynn shared her own personal experiences growing up in "Coal Miner's Daughter," which became a No. 1 country hit in 1970. The song told the story of her childhood, growing up poor but happy. Teaming up with Conway Twitty, Lynn won her first Grammy Award in 1971 for their duet "After the Fire Is Gone." This song was only one of many successful duets that the pair made; other hits included "Lead Me On" and "Feelin's." These collaborations explored romantic relationships—often adulterous ones. They won the Vocal Duo of the Year award from the Country Music Association for four consecutive years, from 1972 to 1975, for their songs.
Coal Miner's Daughter
On her own, Lynn continued to score hits and even stirred up a bit of controversy. She wrote about the changing times for female sexuality with 1975's "The Pill," which some radio stations refused to play. The following year, Lynn published her first autobiography, Coal Miner's Daughter. The book became a best seller, publicly revealing some of the ups and downs in her professional and personal life, especially her stormy relationship with her husband. In 1980, the film version of the book was released, starring Sissy Spacek as Loretta and Tommy Lee Jones as her husband.
Lynn's domination of the country charts began to ebb in the 1980s, as country music moved more toward mainstream pop and away from Lynn's more traditional sound. Still her albums remained popular, and she enjoyed some success as a spokeswoman for a shortening company. In 1982, she had her most notable hit of the decade with "I Lie."
Around this time, Lynn had to grapple with a personal tragedy. Her 34-year-old son, Jack Benny Lynn, drowned after trying to wade across a river on horseback in July 1984. She herself was hospitalized briefly for exhaustion before learning of her son's death.
Lynn was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1988. In the 1990s, Lynn scaled down her work to care for her husband, who was suffering from heart trouble and diabetes. She did, however, make time to work with Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette on the 1993 album Honky Tonk Angels. In 1995, she starred in a limited-run television series, Loretta Lynn & Friends, and played a handful of tour dates. Lynn's husband died in 1996.
In 2000, Lynn released her next studio album, Still Country. While it earned strong reviews, the album did not match her earlier successes in terms of sales. Lynn explored other opportunities around this time, penning the 2002 memoir Still Woman Enough. She also struck up an unlikely friendship with Jack White of the alternative rock band the White Stripes. In 2003, Lynn played with the White Stripes in concert, and White ended up producing Lynn's next album, Van Lear Rose (2004).
A commercial and critical smash hit, Van Lear Rose injected new life into Lynn's career. "Jack was a kindred spirit," Lynn explained to Vanity Fair magazine.
White was similarly effusive in his praise: "I want as many people as possible on earth to hear her, because she's the greatest female singer-songwriter of the last century," he told Entertainment Weekly. The pair won two Grammy Awards for their work together, for best country collaboration with vocals for the song "Portland Oregon," and for best country album.
Yet to record a follow-up studio album, Lynn kept busy by playing numerous concerts each year. She had to cancel some tour dates in late 2009 due to illness. She bounced back by January 2010 to perform at the University of Central Arkansas. These days, concerts are about family for Lynn. Her son, Ernest Ray, performed at the concert, as did her twin daughters, Peggy and Patsy—known as the Lynns. A short time after the concert, Loretta was honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Tragedy struck Lynn in July 2013, when her oldest daughter, Betty Sue, died of complications of emphysema. Betty Sue was 64 years old at the time of her death and is the second child Lynn has lost.