Loretta Lynn Dies: First Lady of Country Music Was 90

Loretta Lynn
Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for Americana Music

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

Dubbed the First Lady of Country Music, the singer/songwriter’s family announced her death on Tuesday, October 4, in a statement to The Associated Press, saying she died that morning in her home in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. A cause of death was not shared. Lynn had previously suffered a stroke in May 2017 that ended her touring career.

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

The coal miner’s daughter grew up in poverty in a small Kentucky town and already had four children when she began her music career in the 1960s. She married 21-year-old Oliver Vanetta Lynn, Jr. (commonly known as Doolittle “Mooney” Lynn), at the age of 16 in 1948. They were married until he died in 1996.

Lynn’s songs about womanhood in Appalachia made her a country music legend, as they often touched on subjects previously seen as taboo. Divorce, cheating husbands, sex, love, and birth control were just some of the topics explored in her broad music catalogue. Some of her greatest hits include “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “You Ain’t Woman Enough,” “The Pill,” “Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind),” “Rated X,” and “You’re Looking at Country.”

Lynn had a singular fashion aesthetic for her stage performances, dolling up in floor-length gowns with wide skirts covered in detailed embroidery and no shortage of rhinestones. She earned 18 Grammy nominations and three wins across her storied decades-long career.

Lynn was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1983 and elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1988. She shared a special friendship with the late country music legend Patsy Cline. Their friendship only lasted a few years, as Cline died in a plane crash in 1963, but the alto crooner was a mentor to Lynn as she rose to fame.

Megan Hilty and Jessie Mueller played the two stars in the Lifetime movie Patsy & Loretta. Lynn’s life and career was also documented in the 1980 film Coal Miner’s Daughter starring Sissy Spacek. Spacek won an Oscar for her performance.

Lynn also shared close friendships with Dolly Parton and other music legends. In 2004, the then 72-year-old released her 42nd studio album, a collaboration with Jack White of The White Stripes titled Van Lear Rose.