Loretta Lynn, country singer of love and hardship, has died at the age of 90

Loretta Lynn, whose tales of heartbreak and poverty are among the most celebrated in the country music canon, has died aged 90.

Lynn died at home in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, on 4 October, her family confirmed.

Beginning with 1966’s Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind), she topped the US country charts 16 times and was nominated for 18 Grammy awards, winning three. She recorded 60 studio albums in all.

Lynn was born Loretta Webb in a one-room rural Kentucky cabin in 1932, the daughter of a coal miner a fact that inspired her signature song, 1970’s Coal Miner’s Daughter.

A month after meeting him, she married 21-year-old Oliver Lynn at the age of 15. Despite Oliver’s frequent infidelity and alcoholism, the couple was married for 48 years until Oliver died in 1996. They had six children together, three of whom were born before Lynn turned 20.

In 1953, Oliver gave her a guitar as an anniversary present, and Lynn formed Loretta and the Trailblazers with her brother Jay Lee, while she was still a housewife in Washington state. In 1960, she began writing her own songs and released her first single, I’m a Honky-Tonk Girl.

It was released on a small independent label, and she and Oliver tirelessly promoted it by driving from one country radio station to the next. “Because we couldn’t afford hotels, we slept in the car and ate baloney and cheese sandwiches in parks we were on the road for three months,” she later recalled. The song was a success, reaching the Top 20 in the country, and led to her signing with a major label, Decca.

Loretta Lynn Dies aged 90

I’m a Honky-Tonk Girl was inspired by the story of someone Lynn met and befriended, and its subject matter a woman devastated by a breakup – would be revisited again and again by Lynn, whose songs frequently depicted broken hearts or damaging relationships, and frequently featured feisty heroines. Her second No. 1, Fist City, was a warning to other women not to approach her husband, while Rated X, another country chart-topper, addressed the stigma of divorce; 1975’s The Pill crossed into the pop charts with its controversially frank celebration of birth control.

Between 1964 and 1976, she maintained a high release rate, releasing at least two and up to four albums per year. She collaborated with country stars such as Conway Twitty, with whom she recorded 10 duet albums, and Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette for the 1993 album Honky Tonk Angels, in addition to solo releases. She collaborated with kd lang and had a friendship with Patsy Cline, for whom she recorded a tribute album after Cline died in a plane crash in 1963.

Lynn’s release rate slowed in the mid-1980s, but she had a high-profile comeback in 2004 with the album Van Lear Rose, produced by Jack White of the White Stripes. It became her best-selling album on the US charts at the time, and it was followed by Full Circle, her highest-charting album to date, which featured duets with Willie Nelson and Elvis Costello. Wouldn’t It Be Great, her most recent album, was released in 2018.

She wrote a successful autobiography, Coal Miner’s Daughter, in 1976 and her life story inspired a 1980 biopic of the same name. It starred Sissy Spacek as Lynn, and earned seven Oscar nominations, with Spacek winning best actress for her performance.

Lynn is survived by four of her six children: Clara, Ernest, and twins Peggy and Patsy.

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