87 Years Ago: Loretta Lynn Is Born in Butcher Holler, Ky.
Happy 87th birthday, Loretta Lynn! The country legend was born on this day, April 14, in 1932.
Lynn was born to Theodore Webb, a coal miner, and his wife, Clara Ramey. The second of eight children -- including younger sister Brenda Gail, known as singer Crystal Gayle -- she grew up in Butcher Holler, a small mining community in the town of Van Lear, Ky.
Lynn was only 15 years old when she married Oliver Lynn, known as "Doolittle," "Doo" or "Mooney." The couple relocated to Washington state so that he could find steady employment without working in the mines. By the time Lynn was 20 years old, she was the mother of four children.
“I married Doo when I wasn’t but a child, and he was my life from that day on," Lynn writes in her autobiography. "But as important as my youth and upbringing was, there’s something else that made me stick to Doo. He thought I was something special, more special than anyone else in the world, and never let me forget it. That belief would be hard to shove out the door."
The Lynns went on to have six children, but their marriage was anything but easy.
"He never hit me one time that I didn't hit him back twice," Lynn recounts. "I didn't need him but he was my kids' daddy ... Doo was my security, my safety net. And just remember, I’m explainin’, not excusin’ … Doo was a good man and a hard worker. But he was an alcoholic, and it affected our marriage all the way through.”
In spite of their personal troubles, it was Lynn's husband who convinced her to try to make it as a singer. With his encouragement, Lynn recorded her first single, "I'm a Honky Tonk Angel," and together, the couple crossed the country in their car, stopping at every radio station along the way.
Loretta Lynn Sings, Lynn's freshman album, was released in 1963 on Decca Records. The project spawned two Top 10 hits, "Success" and "The Other Woman," but it wasn't until 1966 that Lynn earned her first No. 1 single, with "Don't Come Home a'Drinkin' (With Lovin' on Your Mind)."
Loretta Lynn Through the Years
Lynn became a trailblazer for women, releasing several songs that had what was considered questionable content for radio at the time. Following the release of her first chart-topping hit, she went on to record other strongly worded singles, including "Rated X" in 1972 and "The Pill" in 1975.
Lynn became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1962, two years after she first performed on the famous stage.
“The first memory I have of the Grand Ole Opry was, when I went out to sing, I remember patting my foot, and that’s it,” she recalls. “I don’t remember even singing. Now I was so excited, I don’t remember singing, but I remember patting my foot."
Her induction into the Opry remains one of the highlights of Lynn's illustrious career.
“I’d like to say the greatest moment of my life was when they inducted me into the Grand Ole Opry,” Lynn says. “It’s a moment you only feel once in your life.”
Lynn has released more than 50 studio albums and more than 80 singles. She's received numerous accolades and awards throughout her lengthy career, which spans more than 50 years. Lynn has won numerous CMA Awards, ACM Awards and Grammys. She was the first female to receive both the CMA and ACM Entertainer of the Year trophies.
In addition to being inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, Lynn became a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in 1988. In 2003, she was the recipient of a Kennedy Center Honor, by then-President George W. Bush. In 2008, she was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
In 2014, Lynn signed a multi-album deal with Legacy Recordings. She released her newest album, Full Circle, in March of 2016; the record earned Lynn her highest-ever debut on the all-genre charts. Her next album, 2018's Wouldn't It Be Great, was originally due out in 2017 but was postponed so that Lynn could focus on her health, after suffering a stroke in May of that year.
Lynn hasn't appeared in public or onstage much since that stroke, but she did head to Nashville's Bridgestone Arena on April 1, 2019, for a celebratory tribute show in honor of her birthday. According to the country icon, it was the first birthday party she'd ever had. Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, Martina McBride, Kacey Musgraves, Darius Rucker, George Strait, Jack White, Trisha Yearwood and many, many more took part in the festivities.
All of Lynn's music is available for download on iTunes.
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