NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Loretta Lynn, the Kentucky coal miner’s daughter whose frank songs about life and love as a woman in Appalachia pulled her out of poverty and made her a pillar of country music, has died. She was 90.
In a statement, Lynn’s family said she died Tuesday at her home in Hurricane Mills, Tenn.
“Our precious mom, Loretta Lynn, passed away peacefully this morning, October 4th, in her sleep at home in her beloved ranch in Hurricane Mills,” the family said in a statement. They asked for privacy as they grieve and said a memorial will be announced later.
Lynn already had four children before launching her career in the early 1960s, and her songs reflected her pride in her rural Kentucky background.
As a songwriter, she crafted a persona of a defiantly tough woman. The Country Music Hall of Famer wrote fearlessly about sex and love, cheating husbands, divorce and birth control and sometimes got in trouble with radio programmers for material from which even rock performers once shied away.
Her biggest hits came in the 1960s and ’70s, including “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.” She was known for appearing in floor-length, wide gowns with elaborate embroidery or rhinestones, many created by her longtime personal assistant and designer Tim Cobb.
“I was singing when I was born, I think,” she said in 2016. “Daddy used to come out on the porch where I would be singing and rocking the babies to sleep. He’d say, ‘Loretta, shut that big mouth. People all over this holler can hear you.’ And I said, ‘Daddy, what difference does it make? They are all my cousins.’”
Her honesty and unique place in country music was rewarded.
The Academy of Country Music chose her as the artist of the decade for the 1970s, and she was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1988. She won four Grammy Awards, was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2008, was honored at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2003 and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013.
“It was what I wanted to hear and what I knew other women wanted to hear, too,” Lynn said in 2016. “I didn’t write for the men; I wrote for us women. And the men loved it, too.”
In 1969, she released her autobiographical “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” which helped her reach her widest audience yet.
“We were poor but we had love/That’s the one thing Daddy made sure of/He shoveled coal to make a poor man’s dollar,” she sang.
“Coal Miner’s Daughter,” also the title of her 1976 book, was made into a 1980 movie. Sissy Spacek’s portrayal of Lynn won her an Academy Award, and the film was also nominated for best picture.
Long after her commercial peak, Lynn won two Grammys in 2005 for her album “Van Lear Rose,” which featured 13 songs she wrote, including “Portland, Oregon” about a drunken one-night stand. “Van Lear Rose” was a collaboration with rocker Jack White, who produced and played the guitar parts.