- Category : Singer - Popular
- Type : GE
- Profile : 5/1 - Heretical / Investigator
- Definition : Triple Split
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Limitation 1
Loretta Lynn (Born Loretta Webb April 14, 1932) is an American country-music singer-songwriter and author born in Butcher Hollow, near Paintsville, Kentucky, USA, to a coal-miner father. At the age of 15 she married, and soon she became pregnant. She moved to Washington state with her husband, Oliver Vanetta Lynn, Jr. (1926–1996), nicknamed "Doo". Their marriage was tumultuous; he had affairs, and she was headstrong; their life together helped to inspire her music.
On their 6 year anniversary, at the age of 21, (1953), Lynn's husband bought her a $17 Harmony guitar. She taught herself to play and when she was 24, on her wedding anniversary, he encouraged her to become a singer. She worked to improve her guitar playing, started singing at the Delta Grange Hall in Washington state with the Pen Brothers' band, The Westerners, then eventually cut her first record (Honky Tonk Girl) in February 1960. She became a part of the country music scene in Nashville in the 1960s, and in 1967 charted her first of 16 number-one hits (out of 70 charted songs as a solo artist and a duet partner) that include "Don't Come Home A' Drinkin' (With Lovin' on Your Mind)", "You Ain't Woman Enough", "Fist City", and "Coal Miner's Daughter".
She focused on blue collar women's issues with themes about philandering husbands and persistent mistresses, and pushed boundaries in the conservative genre of country music by singing about birth control ("The Pill"), repeated childbirth ("One's on the Way"), double standards for men and women ("Rated "X""), and being widowed by the draft during the Vietnam War ("Dear Uncle Sam"). Country music radio stations often refused to play her music, banning 9 of her songs. But Loretta pushed on to become "The First Lady of Country Music". Her best-selling 1976 autobiography book was made into an Academy Award-winning film, Coal Miner's Daughter, starring Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones, in 1980. Her most recent album, Van Lear Rose, was released in 2004, produced by Jack White, and topped the country album charts. Loretta has received numerous awards in country and American music. For over 50 years Loretta has been performing and was honored in 2010 at the Country Music Awards for her stellar career. Loretta has been a member of The Grand Ole Opry for 50 years since joining on September 25, 1962.
Childhood and early adulthood
Born to Melvin "Ted" Webb (April 9, 1906 – February 23, 1959) and Clara Marie Ramey - Webb (May 5, 1912 – November 24, 1981) and was named after film star Loretta Young, Loretta's dad never got to see his daughter become famous. Loretta was the second of eight children. Three of her siblings also pursued country music careers—her youngest sister, Crystal Gayle, sister Peggy Sue, and brother Jay Lee Webb. On her mother's side, she is related to country music singer Patty Loveless (Patricia Ramey), as well as Venus Ramey (Miss America, 1944). She was raised in Butcher Hollow, part of Van Lear, Kentucky, a mining community near Paintsville. Her mother was of Scots-Irish and Cherokee ancestry. Her father was a coal miner, storekeeper, and farmer. Her seven siblings are Melvin Webb. Jr (1929–1993), Herman (b. 1934), Jay Lee (1939–1996), Donald (b. 1943), Peggy Webb Wright (b. 1947), Betty Ruth (b. 1949) and Brenda Gail Webb (better known as country singer Crystal Gayle) (b. 1951).
She married Oliver Vanetta Lynn, commonly known as "Doolittle", "Doo" or "Mooney" (for running moonshine), on January 10, 1948. Oliver was 21 years old; Loretta was 15 years old. In an effort to break free of the coal mining industry, the couple moved to the logging community of Custer, Washington. The Lynns had three children by the time Loretta was 19. The Lynns had 6 children altogether. Loretta became a grandma at age 29 (1961).
Betty Sue, August 3, 1948 (age 64)
Jack Benny, December 7, 1949 died July 22, 1984 (aged 34)
Clara Marie (Cissy), March 4, 1951 (age 62)
Ernest Ray, April 12, 1959 (age 54)
Peggy and Patsy (twins; latter named for Patsy Cline), June 3, 1964 (age 48)
Before her marriage, Loretta regularly sang at churches and in local concerts. After she married, she stopped singing in public, focusing on family life. Instead, she passed her love of music on to her children, often singing to them around the house. When she was 21 years old, her husband bought her a $17.00 Harmony guitar as an anniversary present, which she taught herself to play.
Although married for almost fifty years, with six children, the Lynns' marriage was reportedly rocky up to Doolittle's death in 1996. In her 2002 autobiography, Still Woman Enough, and in an interview with CBS News the same year, Lynn recounts how her husband cheated on her regularly and once left her while she was giving birth. Lynn and her husband fought frequently, but, she said, "he never hit me one time that I didn't hit him back twice".
1960–1966: Early country success
Lynn began singing in local clubs in 1959 and later formed her own band, The Trailblazers, which included her brother Jay Lee Webb. Lynn appeared in a televised Tacoma, Washington, talent contest, hosted by Buck Owens, which was seen by Canadian Norm Burley, one of the founders of Zero Records. Zero Records president, Canadian Don Grashey arranged a recording session in Hollywood, where four of Lynn's own compositions were recorded: "I'm A Honky Tonk Girl", "Whispering Sea", "Heartache Meet Mister Blues", and "New Rainbow". Her first release featured "Whispering Sea" and "I'm A Honky Tonk Girl". She signed her first contract on February 2, 1960, with Zero Records and the material was recorded at United Western Recorders, in Hollywood and engineered by Don Blake and produced by Grashey. Musicians backing on the songs were "the great" steel guitar player Speedy West, Harold Hensely on fiddle, Roy Lanham on guitar, Al Williams on bass, and Muddy Berry on drums. Lynn commented on the different sound of her first record: "Well, there is a West Coast sound that is definitely not the same as the Nashville sound.... It was a shuffle with a West Coast beat".
The Lynns then toured the country to promote the release to country stations, while Grashey and Del Roy took the music to KFOX in Long Beach, California. When the Lynns reached Nashville, the song was a hit, climbing to No. 14 on Billboard's C & W Chart, and Lynn began cutting demo records for the Wilburn Brothers' Publishing Company. Through the Wilburns, Lynn was able to secure a contract with Decca Records. From the onset of her career fans took notice and rallied behind her all the way, with the first Loretta Lynn Fan Club formed in November 1960. By the end of the year Billboard magazine listed Loretta Lynn as the No. 4 Most Promising Country Female Artist.
Her relationship with the Wilburn Brothers and her appearances on the Grand Ole Opry, beginning in 1960, helped Lynn become the number one female recording artist in country music. Lynn's contract with the Wilburn Brothers gave them the publishing rights to her material. She was still fighting to regain these rights 30 years after ending her business relationship with them, but was ultimately denied the publishing rights. Lynn stopped writing music in the 1970s because of these contracts. Although Kitty Wells had become the first major female country vocalist during the 1950s, by the time Lynn recorded her first record, only three other women - Patsy Cline, Skeeter Davis, and Jean Shepard - had become top stars. By the end of 1962, it was clear that Lynn was on her way to becoming the fourth. Lynn has credited Cline as her mentor and best friend during those early years.
Lynn released her first Decca single, "Success," in 1962, and it went straight to Number 6, beginning a string of Top 10 singles that would run through the rest of the decade and throughout the next. She was a hard honky-tonk singer for the first half of the '60s and rarely strayed from the genre. Between this time, Lynn soon began to regularly hit the Top 10 after 1964 with "Before I'm Over You", which peaked at No. 4, followed by "Wine, Women, and Song", which peaked at No. 3. In late 1964, she recorded a duet album with Ernest Tubb. Their lead single, "Mr. and Mrs. Used to Be" peaked within the Top 15. Together, the pair recorded two more albums, "Singin' Again" (1967) and If we Put Our Heads Together (1969). In 1965, her solo career continued with three major hits that year, "Happy Birthday", "Blue Kentucky Girl" (later recorded and made a Top 10 hit in the 70s by Emmylou Harris), and "The Home You're Tearing Down". Lynn's label issued two albums that year, Songs from My Heart and Blue Kentucky Girl. While most of these songs were Top 10 Country hits, none of them reached #1.
Her first self-penned song to crack the Top Ten, 1966’s "Dear Uncle Sam”, was among the very first recordings to recount the human costs of the Vietnam War. In the latter half of the decade, although she still worked within the confines of honky tonk, her sound became more personal, varied, and ambitious, particularly lyrically. Beginning with 1966's Number 1 hit in Cash Box, "You Ain't Woman Enough", Lynn began writing songs with a feminist viewpoint, which was unheard of in country music. This song made Loretta Lynn the first country female recording artist to pen a No. 1 hit.
1967–1980: Breakthrough success
In 1967, she reached No. 1 with "Don't Come Home A' Drinkin' (With Lovin' on Your Mind)". Her album, Don't Come Home A-Drinkin, went to number one and became one of the first albums by a female country artist to reach sales of 500,000 copies.
Her next album, Fist City was released in 1968. The title track became Lynn's second No. 1 hit, as a single in earlier that year, and the other single from the album, "What Kind of a Girl (Do You Think I Am)", peaked within the Top 10. In 1968, her next studio album, Your Squaw Is on the Warpath, spawned two Top 5 Country hits: the title track and "You've Just Stepped In (From Stepping Out on Me)". In 1969, her next single, "Woman of the World (Leave My World Alone)", was Lynn's third chart-topper, followed by a subsequent Top 10, "To Make a Man (Feel Like a Man)". Lynn was reportedly once inspired to write a song about a real woman she suspected was flirting with her husband. The song, "You Ain't Woman Enough (To Take My Man)", was an instant hit and became one of Lynn's all-time most popular. Her career continued to be successful into the 1970s, especially following the success of her hit "Coal Miner's Daughter", which peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Chart in 1970. "Coal Miner's Daughter" tells the story of Lynn's life growing up in rural Butcher Hollow, Kentucky. The song later served as the impetus for the best-selling biography (1976) and the Oscar-winning biopic starring Sissy Spacek (1980), both of which share the song's title. The song became her first single to chart on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 83. She had a series of singles that would chart low on the Hot 100 between 1970 and 1975.
In 1971, she began a professional partnership with Conway Twitty. As a duo, Lynn and Twitty had five consecutive Number 1 hits between 1971 and 1975: their first release "After the Fire Is Gone" (1971),won them a Grammy award, "Lead Me On" (1971), "Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man" (1973), "As Soon as I Hang Up the Phone" (1974), and "Feelins'" (1974). The hit-streak kick-started what became one of the most successful duos of country history. For four consecutive years (1972–1975), Lynn and Twitty were named the "Vocal Duo of the Year" by the Country Music Association. The Academy of Country Music named them the "Best Vocal Duet" in 1971, 1974, 1975 and 1976. The American Music awards selected them as the "Favorite Country Duo" in 1975, 1976 & 1977. The fan-voted Music City News readers voted them the No. 1 duet in 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980 and 1981. In addition to their five Number 1 singles, they had seven other Top 10 hits between 1976 and 1981. Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty are the most successful and most awarded male/femal duet teams in country music history.
As a solo artist, Lynn continued to be very successful into 1971, achieving her fifth No. 1 solo hit, "One's on the Way", written by poet and songwriter Shel Silverstein. The songs that didn't reach the top spot peaked within the Top 10 during this time, "I Wanna Be Free", "You're Lookin' At Country" and 1972's "Here I Am Again", all released on separate albums. The next year, she became the first country star on the cover of Newsweek.
In 1973, "Rated X" peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Chart and was considered one of Lynn's most controversial hits. The next year, her next single, "Love Is the Foundation", also became a No. 1 country hit from her album of the same name. The second and last single from that album, "Hey Loretta", became a Top 5 hit. Lynn continued to reach the Top 10 until the end of the decade, including with 1975's "The Pill", considered to be the first song to discuss birth control, other than the 1967 French-language song in French, Pilule d'Or, sung by Luc Dominique, the former "Singing Nun". As a songwriter, Lynn believed no topic was off limits, as long as it spoke to other women, and many of her songs were autobiographical. In 1976, she released her autobiography, Coal Miner's Daughter, with the help of writer George Vecsey. It became a #1 bestseller, making Lynn the first country music artist to make the New York Times bestseller list. This opened a flood gate of country artists who followed with books. By the early 1980s Loretta Lynn became the first American female recording artist to chart over fifty top ten hits.
In 1977, she recorded I Remember Patsy, an album to friend and country pop singer, Patsy Cline, who died in a plane crash in 1963. The album covered some of Cline's biggest hits. The two singles Lynn released from the album, "She's Got You" and "Why Can't He Be You", became major hits. "She's Got You", which formerly went to #1 by Cline in 1962, went to #1 again that year by Lynn. "Why Can't He Be You" peaked at #7 shortly afterward. Lynn enjoyed enormous success on country radio until the early 1980s, when a more pop-flavored type of country music began to dominate the market. She stayed within the country Top 10 up until the mid-1980s; however, most of her music by the late '70s had a slick pop sound to it. Lynn had her last #1 hit in early 1978 with her solo single, "Out of My Head and Back In My Bed". In 1979, she had two Top 5 hits, "I Can't Feel You Anymore" and "I've Got a Picture Of Us on My Mind", each from separate albums. Lynn would sit for an hour or more on a stage giving autographs to her fans after a performance. Once in Salisbury, Maryland, the town's newspaper editor interviewed her while she was signing autographs. Editor Mel Toadvine asked her why she took so much time to sign autographs while more than 100 people stood in line all the way to the front of the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center. "These people are my fans", she told Toadvine. "I'll stay here until the very last one wants my autograph. Without these people, I am nobody; I love these people." In 1979, she became the spokeswoman for Procter & Gamble's Crisco Oil, and did TV commercials and print ads for them for a decade, ending in 1989. Because of her dominant hold on the 1970s, Lynn was named the "Artist of the Decade" by the Academy of Country Music. She is the first and only woman to win this honor.
1980–1989: Continued success
On March 5, 1980, the film Coal Miner's Daughter debuted in Nashville, and soon became the No. 1 box office hit in the United States. Lynn crossed over from country music superstar to American legend. The film starred Sissy Spacek as Loretta and Tommy Lee Jones as Mooney Lynn. The film received seven Academy Award nominations winning a Best Actress Oscar for Spacek and a slew of other top honors, including a gold album for the soundtrack album, a Grammy nomination for Spacek's singing as Lynn, a Country Music Association & Academy of Country Music awards plus several Golden Globe awards. The 1980s featured more hits ("Pregnant Again", "Naked In The Rain", "Somebody Led Me Away"). Her 1980 and 1981 albums, Loretta and Lookin' Good spawned these hits. Lynn was the first woman in country music to have 50 Top 10 hits. Her last Top 10 record as a soloist was "I Lie" in 1982, but her releases continued to chart until the end of the decade. Lynn continued to have Top 20 hits throughout the 1980s.
One of her last solo releases was 1985's "Heart Don't Do This to Me," which reached No. 19; her last Top 20 hit. In 1993, Lynn stopped releasing singles and focused more on touring than promoting. As a concert artist, she remained a top draw throughout her career, but by the early 1990s she drastically cut down the number of personal appearances due to the fragile health of her husband, who died in 1996. Her 1985 album, Just a Woman spawned a Top 40 hit. In 1987, Lynn lent her voice to a song on k.d. lang's album, Shadowland with other Country stars, Kitty Wells and Brenda Lee, "Honky Tonk Angels Medley". They released a video for this medley, the album went gold and was Grammy nominated for the four women. Lynn's 1988 album Who Was That Stranger would be her last solo album for a major record company as a solo artist. She remained one of country music’s most popular and well-loved stars. She was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1988.
1990–present: Later music career
Lynn returned to the public eye in 1993 with a hit CD. The trio album Honky Tonk Angels, recorded with Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette. The CD peaked at #6 on the Billboard Country charts and #68 on the Billboard Pop charts and charted a single with "Silver Threads and Golden Needles." They also released a popular video of this song. The album sold over 800,000 copies and was certified gold in the United States and Canada.The trio was nominated for Grammy and Country Music Association awards. Lynn's former singing partner Conway Twitty died in 1993. Tammy Wynette died five years later. The following year released a three-CD boxed set chronicling her career on MCA Records. In 1995, she taped a seven-week series on the Nashville Network (TNN) titled Loretta Lynn & Friends, and performed some fifty dates that year.
In 1995, Lynn was presented with the Pioneer Award at the 30th Academy of Country Music Awards. In 1996, she was widowed. In 2000, she released her first album in several years, entitled Still Country. In it, she included a song, "I Can't Hear the Music", as a tribute to her late husband. She also released her first new single in over 10 years from the album, "Country In My Genes", when the single charted on the Billboard Country singles chart it made Lynn the first woman in Country Music to chart singles in five decades. While the album gained positive critical notices, sales were low in comparison with her previous releases. In 2002, Lynn published her second autobiography, Still Woman Enough, and became her second New York Times bestseller peaking in the top ten. In 2004, she published a cookbook, You're Cookin' It Country.
In 2004, Lynn made a comeback with the highly successful album Van Lear Rose, the second album on which Lynn either wrote or co-wrote every song. The album was produced by her "friend forever" Jack White of The White Stripes, and featured guitar work and backup vocals by White. Her collaboration with White allowed Lynn to reach new audiences and generations, even garnering high praise in magazines that specialize in mainstream and alternative rock music, such as Spin and Blender. Rolling Stone voted the album the second best of the year for 2004. It won the Grammy Award for Best Country Album of the Year. Lynn is reportedly working on a follow-up to 2004's Van Lear Rose, plus a new CD of re-recorded versions of some of her hits over the past 45 years.
In late 2010, Sony Music released a new album titled Coal Miner's Daughter: A Tribute to Loretta Lynn, featuring stars like Reba McEntire, Faith Hill, Paramore, and Carrie Underwood to re-record Loretta's hits over the past 50 years. The CD produced a top ten video hit on GAC with the lead single "Coal Miner's Daughter" that Lynn recorded with Miranda Lambert & Sheryl Crow. The single cracked the Billboard singles chart making Lynn the first female country recording artist to chart records in six decades. In May 2010, Lynn performed at the Nelsonville Music Festival in Nelsonville, Ohio. In 2012, Lynn published her third autobiography, Honky Tonk Girl: My Life in Lyrics.
Lynn is the second of eight children. Some of her siblings, including Jay Lee Webb and Peggy Sue, have pursued short-lived country music careers in the past. The most successful of Lynn's siblings on the Country charts is Crystal Gayle. She was married to Doolittle "Doo" Lynn from 1948 until his death from diabetes in 1996. They were married in Kentucky when she was 15 years old. Although she often claimed to have been married when she was 13 years old. She was actually married when she was 15, which was not unusual in the South at the time.
She had four children before she turned 21, and then had twin girls in 1964: Peggy (Rita) and Patsy Lynn. Patsy Lynn was named in honor of Patsy Cline. Lynn's twin daughters formed their own Country music duo group, The Lynns, in 1998. Jack Benny Lynn, Loretta's eldest son, drowned July 22, 1984, while trying to ford the Duck River at the family ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. He was 34 years old.
Loretta Lynn owns a ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, billed as "The 7th Largest Attraction in Tennessee", featuring a recording studio, museums, lodging, and other attractions. For over 30 years the ranch has hosted the Loretta Lynn's Amateur Motocross National Championship, the world's largest amateur motocross race, in addition to GNCC Racing events. The ranch is centered around her large plantation home, along with a replica of her cabin in Butcher Hollow. She no longer lives in the plantation home, but tours of the house are available. In 2006, Lynn underwent shoulder surgery after injuring herself in a fall. However, due to complications during the procedure, she had to be revived by doctors. The surgery was successfully completed later.
Honors and awards
Lynn has written over 160 songs and released 60 albums. She has had ten Number 1 albums and sixteen Number 1 singles on the country charts. Lynn has won dozens of awards from many different institutions, including four Grammy Awards, seven American Music Awards, eight Broadcast Music Incorporated awards, twelve Academy of Country Music, eight Country Music Association and twenty-six fan voted Music City News awards. She was the first woman in country music to receive a certified gold album for 1967's "Don't Come Home A' Drinkin' (With Lovin' on Your Mind)".
In 1972, Lynn was the first woman named "Entertainer of the Year" by the Country Music Association, and is one of six women to have received CMA's highest award. In 1980 she was the only woman to be named "Artist of the Decade" for the 1970s by the Academy of Country Music. Lynn was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1988 and the Country Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1999. She was also the recipient of Kennedy Center Honors a award givin by the President in 2003. Lynn is also ranked 65th on VH1's 100 Greatest Women of Rock & Roll and was the first female country artist to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1977. In 1995 she received the country music pioneer award.
In 2001, "Coal Miner's Daughter" was named among NPR's "100 Most Significant Songs of the 20th Century". In 2002, Lynn had the highest ranking No. 3 for any living female CMT television's special of the 40 Greatest Women of Country Music.
On November 4, 2004, Lynn, who has been a BMI affiliate for over 45 years, was honored as a BMI Icon at the BMI Country Awards.
In 2008, Loretta Lynn was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York City. To date Lynn had been inducted into more music Halls Of Fame than any other female recording artist. In 2010, Lynn received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for her 50 years in country music.
Loretta Lynn appeared at the 44th Annual Country Music Awards on November 10, 2010 and was honored for fifty years in country music. Also that year, Lynn was also presented with a rose named in her honour.
In November 2010 Sony Music released a tribute CD to Loretta Lynn titled Coal Miner's Daughter: A Tribute to Loretta Lynn. The CD featured Kid Rock, Reba McEntire, Sheryl Crow, Miranda Lambert, Alan Jackson, Gretchen Wilson, The White Stripes, Martina McBride, Paramore, Steve Earl, Faith Hill. In 2011 Lynn was nominated for an Academy of Country Music, CMT Video and Country Music Association award for "Vocal Event of the Year" with Miranda Lambert and Sheryl Crow for "Coal Miner's Daughter" released as a video and single off the CD.
On September 25, 2012, Loretta Lynn marked her 50th anniversary as a Grand Ole Opry member. The only other women to reach this milestone have been Jean Shepard, Minnie Pearl and Wilma Lee Cooper. Lynn was honored with a tribute show that was broadcast on GAC-TV.
At the height of her popularity, Lynn was subject to much controversy. Songs by Lynn that have been banned include "Rated "X"," about the double standards divorced women face, "Wings Upon Your Horns", about the loss of teenage virginity, and "The Pill", lyrics by T. D. Bayless, about a wife and mother becoming liberated via the birth-control pill. Her song "Dear Uncle Sam", released in 1966 during the Vietnam War, describes a wife's anguish at the loss of a husband to war. It has been included in live performances during the Iraq War.
Though Lynn has been outspoken about her views on often-controversial social and political subjects, she stated, "I don't like to talk about things where you're going to get one side or the other unhappy. My music has no politics." She has visited the White House six times since 1976, under both Republican and Democratic presidents, and in her autobiography, she said her father was a Republican and her mother was a Democrat. In 2002's Still Woman Enough, she discusses her longtime friendship and support for Jimmy Carter, yet during the same time period she made her only recorded political donations ($4,300) to Republican candidates and Republican-aligned PACs. She is known to have a friendly relationship with both George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, who awarded her Kennedy Center Honors in 2003. At other times, she has also questioned both political parties: "Dear Uncle Sam" was written in 1966 during the Lyndon B. Johnson administration to "recount the human costs of the Vietnam War", and she made a return to her live sets during the Iraq War under George W. Bush's presidency.
While a recognized "advocate for ordinary women", Lynn has often criticized upper-middle class feminism for ignoring the needs and concerns of working-class women. She once stated, "I'm not a big fan of Women's Liberation, but maybe it will help women stand up for the respect they're due." Along these lines, her music has spanned from "The Pill" and "Rated X" to more culturally-conservative gospel albums.
She allowed PETA to use her song "I Wanna Be Free" in a public service campaign encouraging people not to chain their dogs outside.