Loretta Lynn is surely within an exclusive list of singers who are considered legendary owing to the sheer longevity and quality of their artistic output. She is an American country music singer and songwriter who has been a recipient of multiple awards for her role in the development of her chosen musical genre. Her albums have sold millions of copies across the world. Some of her greatest hits include One’s on the Way, Coal Miner’s Daughter amongst others. Her musical career has spanned over an impressive 60 years.
Who is Loretta Lynn?
Born in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky on April 14, 1932, she is the second of the eight children of her parents Clara Marie and Melvin Theodore Webb who was a coal miner as well as a subsistence farmer. Lynn’s birth name was Loretta Webb.
A few months before she turned 16, a teenage Loretta defied reason and got married to a certain Oliver Lynn. The happy and trying times she experienced in matrimony were fuel to some of her later works. Whilst living in Custer, Washington where she became heavily involved in doing odd jobs her husband Oliver worked, Loretta began to practice with the guitar her husband had gotten her.
She soon began playing at local venues with the support of her husband, creating ripples in the country music scene when she released her first single, “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl” in 1960. Having signed a deal with Zero Records, she still took it upon herself to self-promote the song and it paid off as it aired on the airways. By the time she moved to Nashville, still in 1960, she met the Wilburn Brothers, Teddy and Doyle Wilburn. In October of that year, she nailed a performance at the Grand Ole Opry which was a stepping stone to her signing a contract with Decca Records.
Her first song to hit the country music Top 10 charts was “Success” which made it quite obvious that Lynn’s talent as an artist was becoming evident and in 1963 she released her first self-album titled Loretta Lynn Sings. The album hit No. 2 on the charts. Her ability as a singer was tested as she tried to cover a range of issues in her songs ranging from political issues to contemporary challenges as well.
Between 1966 and 1968, Lynn released hit songs and classics which were at the very top of the charts. Don’t Come a Drinkin’ (with Lovin’ on Your Mind) was released in 1967 and was a No. 1 hit. You Ain’t Woman Enough (1966) was at No.2 and Fist City (1968) was a classic. At that time, she was also named the Female Vocalist of the Year by the Country Music Association. Probably her best ever track and her best-seller, Coal Miner’s Daughter was released in 1970 and was quickly a hit song, claiming the No. 1 billing on the charts.
Loretta is a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, an award bestowed on her on August 8, 2013, by President Barack Obama.
Loretta Lynn has spent 60 years as a singer and she has earned a healthy paycheck as a result. She has an estimated net worth of between $60 and $65 million.
Children, Husband, and Family
For all the success that Lynn achieved in life, it was sad that her father did not get to see it as he died of black lung disease in 1959. Loretta is however not the only one amongst her siblings who became famous. Her younger sister, Brenda Gail Webb performed professionally as Crystal Gayle. Country music singer, Patty Loveless is also her cousin.
Lynn was married before she was sixteen and she had had her first four kids by the time she turned 20. Her kids were Betty Sue Lynn born in 1948, Jack Benny Lynn born in 1949, Clara Marie Lynn in 1952 and Ernest Ray Lynn who was born in 1954. Ten years after the birth of Ernest, Lynn gave birth to twin girls Peggy Jean and Patsy Eileen Lynn. They were named after Lynn’s sister and her close friend. Unfortunately, Lynn outlived two of her children. She lost her second child and eldest son, Jack Benny on July 22, 1984, on the family’s ranch while he was trying to cross the Duck River. He was aged 34 at the time of his demise. Her eldest child, Betty Sue also died from emphysema in 2013 at 64.
Lynn was married to Oliver Lynn for nearly 50 years and as much as the marriage had great times, it was not perfect. She revealed that he had cheated on her frequently, was an alcoholic but he was still supportive of her career. She calls her marriage “one of the hardest love stories”.