Loretta Lynn, America’s groundbreaking country titan whose frank lyricism delving into women’s experiences with infidelity and pregnancy touched the nerve of a nation, has died. She was 90 years old.
She ‘passed peacefully in her sleep’ at her ranch in Tennessee Tuesday morning, her family said in a statement sent to AFP.
Lynn saw a number of her edgy tracks banned by country music stations, but over the course of more than six decades in the business, she became a standard-bearer of the genre and its most decorated female artist ever.
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Born Loretta Webb on April 14, 1932, in small-town Kentucky, Lynn was the eldest daughter in an impoverished family of eight kids, a childhood she immortalized in her iconic track ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter’ – a staple on lists of all-time best songs.
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“We were poor but we had love / That’s the one thing that daddy made sure of,” Lynn sang in the hit recorded in 1970 – later the theme song for a 1980 movie about her life starring Sissy Spacek, who won an Oscar for the role.
At just 15 the artist married Oliver Vanetta Lynn, who she remained married to, for nearly 50 years until his death in 1996.
They moved to a logging community in Washington state, and Lynn gave birth to four children before the age of 20, adding twins to the family not long after.
An admirer of his wife’s voice, her husband bought Lynn a guitar in the early 1950s.
The self-taught musician went on to pen lyrics inspired by her own early experiences as a married woman and her oft-tumultuous relationship, the nascent days of a prolific career that would see the artist release dozens of albums.
She started her own band, Loretta and the Trailblazers, and began playing bar sets before cutting her first record – ‘I’m a Honky Tonk Girl’ in 1960.