American country music singer-songwriter Loretta Lynn, 1970. (Photo by Sylvia Pitcher/Redferns)
Sylvia Pitcher/Redferns

Loretta Lynn, Country Icon and 'Coal Miner's Daughter,' Dies at 90

Groundbreaking country icon Loretta Lynn has died. The legendary singer-songwriter, known for her timeless songs such as "Coal Miner's Daughter," "The Pill," "Don't Come Home a Drinkin' (With Lovin' on Your Mind)," and countless others, died peacefully in her sleep early on the morning of Oct. 4. Lynn was 90s years old.

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

Born Loretta Webb in Butcher Hollow, Ky. in 1932 to parents Clara Marie and Ted Webb, a coal miner, Lynn wrote from her heart about her own life experiences and became a voice for women across the nation. Married at 13 years old to her husband of 48 years, Oliver "Doolittle" Lynn, Loretta drew inspiration from her own life as a young wife and mother.

"We as women sometime feel we are not enough—smart enough, pretty enough, on and on," Lynn told Parade in 2021.  "I've had the same struggles. So I made the sayin' "still woman enough" as my pep talk to myself. When I wrote the song, I wanted it to be about being strong and liking who I was as a woman."

She recorded her first record "Honky Tonk Girl" in 1960 and would go on to record a string of No. 1 hits throughout the 1960s, including "You Ain't Woman Enough (To Take My Man)," "Fist City" and the autobiographical "Coal Miner's Daughter."

"It is not enough to say today that Country Music has lost Loretta Lynn, but rather the world has lost a true music legend," Sarah Trahern, Country Music Association CEO, said in a statement. "Loretta was a woman whose contributions and impact inspired countless artists and transformed the Country genre into a universal art form. She was a Country Music Hall of Fame member and the first woman to receive a CMA Award for Entertainer of the Year. As a trailblazing songwriter, she bravely wrote about socially and culturally relevant topics that came to define a generation. I'll personally remember Loretta for her spirit, artistry and genius that rivaled contemporaries like Bob Dylan, John Lennon and Paul McCartney."

Several of Lynn's songs were banned by country radio, including "The Pill,"  an ode to birth control, and "Rated X," which examined the stigma upon divorced women.

"I just write what I feel, what is going on with me and my life," Lynn told Parade in 2021. "It just happened that a lot of other women felt the same. I would never set out to write something just for it to shock someone; I am not that clever. It's always been about truth and if that means radio wants to ban it, well that's their problem. Most of my records they banned became No. 1 anyway."

Lynn wrote about her upbringing in her 1976 autobiography Coal Miner's Daughter, which was later turned into the 1980 film Coal Miner's Daughter, starring Sissy Spacek as Lynn. She'd go on to write her second autobiography Still Woman Enough  in 2002.

"The moment she walked in the door, she wanted to cook dinner for her kids. She wanted to be a mom. She didn't want to be Loretta Lynn, country singer," Lynn's daughter Patsy Lynn Russell told Wide Open Country in 2021. "She just wanted to be Loretta Lynn, Mooney Lynn's wife and these kids' mom."

Lynn was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1988. She was a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 2003, inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2008 and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013.

In 2020, Lynn published Me & Patsy Kickin' Up Dust, which chronicled her friendship with Patsy Cline.

In 2021, Lynn released her 50th studio album Still Woman Enough,

which was co-produced by Lynn's daughter  Patsy Lynn Russell and John Carter Cash.

"She wanted to rerecord some of her old hits and I didn't. I was like, 'No, no, we're not touching the Holy Grail," Russell told Wide Open Country in 2021. "Because my favorite as an artist — as somebody listening — my favorite music of my mom's is 1960 to like 1974. I just think that that those records were just so good that I just didn't want to mess with that — I didn't want to redo that. But it was important to my mom."

The country superstar was preceded in death by her husband Oliver, her daughter Betty Sue Lynn and son Jack Benny Lynn.

Lynn is survived by her daughters Patsy Lynn Russell, Peggy Lynn, Clara (Cissie) Marie Lynn and her son Ernest Ray Lynn as well as grandchildren Lori Lynn Smith, Ethan Lyell, Elizabeth Braun, Tayla Lynn, Jack Lynn, Ernest Ray Lynn Jr., Katherine Condya, Alexandria Lynn, Jasyntha Connelly, Megan Horkins, Anthony Brutto, Jason Lynn, Wesley Lynn, Levi Lynn, Emmy Rose Russell, David Russell, Lucca Marchetti and step grandchildren David Greer, Jennafer Russell, Melody Russell and Natalie Rapp, and her great-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers the family asks for donations to be made to the Loretta Lynn Foundation. Information about a memorial service/celebration of life will be made available at a later date.