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Country music star Loretta Lynn dies aged 90

Country music star Loretta Lynn has died at the age of 90.

Her family said she passed away at her “beloved ranch in Hurricane Mills” in Tennessee.

“Our precious mom, Loretta Lynn, passed away peacefully this morning, October 4th, in her sleep at home in her beloved ranch in Hurricane Mills,” said a statement.

Loretta Lynn pictured in 1980 on stage performing Credit: Ron Wolfson / Rock Negatives / MediaPunch /IPX
Image:
Pic: Ron Wolfson / Rock Negatives / MediaPunch /IPX

As a mother of four at the time, Lynn launched her career in the early 1960s, her songs reflecting her pride in her rural upbringing in Kentucky, but also tackling subjects such as sex and love, cheating husbands, fighting other women, divorce, and birth control.

“It was what I wanted to hear and what I knew other women wanted to hear, too,” she told the Associated Press news agency in an interview in 2016. “I didn’t write for the men; I wrote for us women. And the men loved it, too.”

Lynn sold more than 45 million records worldwide, her biggest hits including You Ain’t Woman Enough, The Pill, Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind), Rated X, You’re Looking At Country and Coal Miner’s Daughter, referencing her own background living in a mountain cabin with seven brothers and sisters.

Coal Miner’s Daughter was also the title of her 1976 book, turned into a film of the same name in 1980; actress Sissy Spacek’s portrayal of Lynn won her an Oscar and the film was also nominated for best picture.

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Friends with other country greats such as Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline and Tammy Wynette, Lynn picked up accolades throughout her career, becoming the first woman ever to be named entertainer of the year at the country genre’s two major awards shows, first by the Country Music Association in 1972 and then by the Academy of Country Music three years later.

Her awards include four Grammys, including a lifetime achievement prize in 2010, and her most recent in 2019. In 2013, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama.

Even into her later years, Lynn didn’t stop writing, scoring a multi-album deal in 2014 with Legacy Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment. In 2017, she suffered a stroke that forced her to postpone her shows, but continued to make music following her recovery.

FILE - President Barack Obama awards country music legend Loretta Lynn with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington.  Lynn, the Kentucky coal miner’s daughter who became a pillar of country music, died Tuesday at her home in Hurricane Mills, Tenn. She was 90. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

In 2019, the film Patsy & Loretta wa released, highlighting her friendship with Cline. The film’s release was followed in 2020 by the single I Fall to Pieces and Lynn’s memoir Me & Patsy Kickin’ Up Dust, a celebration of their music and their relationship up until Cline’s death in a plane crash, aged just 30.

A prolific musician whose career spanned seven decades, she released her 50th studio album Still Woman Enough in March 2021.

“To make it in this business, you either have to be first, great or different, and I was the first to ever go into Nashville, singin’ it like the women lived it,” she once said.

In the days before her death, Lynn was sharing memories of her life and career on social media, posting about how a “dream came true” when she became a member of Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry, billed as the home of country music, 60 years ago.

She also said she had enjoyed seeing a “throwback” of her singing with Parton “making the rounds right now”.

Lynn married her husband Oliver “Doolittle” Lynn when she was 15 and they were together until his death in 1996. It was he who encouraged her to sing professionally and helped promote her early career.

They had six children together; the eldest, Betty Sue and Jack, died in 2013 and 1984 resepctively. Lynn is survived by her other four, Ernie, Cissie and twins Peggy and Patsy, who she described as her “absolute best friends”.

She had 17 grandchildren and four step-grandchildren.

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