Loretta Lynn

  • Country singer, guitarist and songwriter born Loretta Webb in 1932 in Butcher Hollow Kentucky. Died in 2022 in her sleep of natural causes, five years after suffering a stroke.
  • At the age of 15, she married Moonie Lynn, who met Loretta a month earlier, and the couple moved to a logging town in Washington State when she seven months pregnant in 1948. Three more children arrived to the family, and in 1953, Moonie bought Loretta a guitar. She taught herself how to play, and with Moonie’s encouragement, she started a band – Loretta and the Trailblazers. The group performed at local honky tonks, including several songs that Lynn penned.
  • She won a wristwatch at a televised talent contest in Tacoma Washington, and the owner of a fledgling record company saw the performance. He liked Lynn’s performance, and in early 1960 he signed her to a recording contract. He arranged for Lynn to travel to Hollywood to record four original songs, including I’m a Honky Tonk Girl. Loretta and Moonie promoted the record by driving to radio stations to drop off copies of the single. It worked – the song reached #14 on the Hot Country Songs chart. Lynn released two more singles for the record company, but they did not chart.
  • The Lynns traveled the country promoting I’m a Honky Tonk Girl, and when they reached Nashville, the local talent took notice. They were encouraged to move to Nashville, and in October 1960, Loretta made her first performance at the Grand Ole Opry (she was invited to join the Opry in 1962). By the end of 1960, Loretta was signed to another recording contract, and in 1962 she had a hit with Success, which peaked at #6 on the Country chart. This began a string of hits during the 60s – from 1962 to 1969, she had 16 top ten hits on the Country chart, including three #1 singles – Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind), Fist City, and Woman of the World (Leave My World Alone). She released 17 studio albums during the decade, topping the Country Albums chart with three of them. This success made Lynn the most popular woman in Country music at the time, in a genre dominated by men.
  • Lynn’s songs often were influenced by her own trials and tribulations. She wrote about her childhood in poverty, philandering husbands, alcoholism, birth control, double standards between men and women, and women widowed by the Vietnam War. Her fans related to her songs and her independence, endearing her with all fans of country music, particularly women.
  • She was even more successful in the 70s. She released 17 studio albums during the decade, including the iconic Coal Miner’s Daughter album in 1971. The album was ranked #440 on Rolling Stone’s list of the Greatest Albums of All Time. The single of the same name reached #1 on the Country chart, and the single ranked #255 on Rolling Stone’s Greatest Songs list. Lynn used the same name for her best selling autobiography, published in 1976. The autobiography was made into an Oscar-winning film in 1980, with Sissy Spacek performing as Loretta.
  • She had 22 top ten hits during the 70s, with eight songs topping the Country chart. She also collaborated with Conway Twitty during the 70s, releasing ten albums (four reached #1 on the Country Albums chart) and 13 singles (all but one were top 10 hits, with five peaking at #1). The duo won a Grammy in 1971 for After the Fire Is Gone, Some of her signature hits during the 70s included Coal Miner’s Daughter, Rated X, The Pill and Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man (with Twitty).
  • In the 80s, her music was less popular on the charts, but her concerts continued to be hugely successful. By the mid 80s, she focused more on performing and less on recording. Her final top 10 hit was in 1982, with I Lie. She returned to prominence in 1993 when she recorded the album Honky Tonk Trio with Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette – the album reached #6 on the Country Album chart and #42 on the Billboard 200 chart. In 2004, her 42nd studio album was released – Van Lear Rose. It was produced by Jack White from the White Stripes, and it was a surprise hit, reaching #2 on the Country Albums chart and #24 on the Billboard 200 chart, her highest charting crossover album. It won two Grammy awards, and it made several Best-of lists. She has actively recorded since 2016 – she released two albums in 2016, one in 2018 and one in 2021 as part of a planned five album series with her latest record label. She retired from touring in 2017 after suffering a stroke, and she died in 2022.
  • Lynn won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010. She received a Kennedy Center Honors award in 2003, and she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013. She certainly is on the Mount Rushmore of Women in Country Music, if not on the Mount Rushmore of All Country Music. Here she is performing my favorite, Don’t Come Home a Drinking.

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