US country star Loretta Lynn has died: the rolled-up sleeves

Loretta Lynn was considered the “Queen of Country Music” in the USA. She died at her ranch in Tennessee at the age of 90.

Country singer Loretta Lynn performs in Austin, Texas in October 2016

Country singer Loretta Lynn performs in Austin, Texas in October 2016 Photo: Rich Fury/dpa

Loretta Lynn, the grand old lady of country music, is dead. The musician, who went by the name of “Queen of Country Music” in the United States, died on Tuesday at the age of 90 in the US state of Tennessee. “Our wonderful mother, Loretta Lynn, passed away peacefully at her beloved ranch in Hurricane Mills,” the family said in a laconic statement.

Similar to “Graceland”, the mansion of Elvis Presley in Memphis, the massive, 25-square-mile ranch, complete with two gift shops, a museum, an equestrian center and several campgrounds, was a major draw for tourists and country fans alike. Quite comparable to knight’s castles in Europe.

The lady of the house, politician Marsha Blackburn, paid tribute to the star, saying that Loretta Lynn was a “Tennessee cultural asset”. “She was a pioneer for women in the country music scene,” Blackburn wrote on Twitter. Lynn paved the way for younger artists, like her own sister Crystal Gayle, or much later Taylor Swift.

Lynn had been looking for the stage into old age, even if she had to slow down in recent years due to a stroke and a broken hip. In 2018, Lynn released a solo album titled “Wouldn’t It Be Great” and made it to the top of the US country charts.

The combative song followed last year “Still Woman Enough”. No age-mild flute! Johnny Cash once described country music as “three chords and the truth”. And Lynn took her job of rolling up her sleeves seriously. Only to the acoustic guitar she sang in her last song: “Well, I’ve been through some bad times/ Been at the bottom and at the top/And I’ve seen life from both sides”.

Lynn was born Loretta Webb in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, in 1932, the daughter of a coal miner – which later earned her the nickname “Coal Miner’s Daughter”. She also took it as the title of her first autobiography. The single of the same name went straight to the top of the charts in 1970, and the album that followed the following year was also at the top. Director Michael Apted’s 1980 biographical film about her life, starring Sissy Spacek and winning the Academy Award for Best Actress, was also titled.

While still in Butcher Hollow, Loretta Webb met her husband Oliver “Doolittle” Lynn in her teens, with whom she remained until his death in 1996. The marriage produced six children, three of whom pursued careers as musicians. Lynn’s career took off in Nashville in 1961.

The following year she had hers first appearance on the “Grand Ole Opry”, the oldest radio show in the USA, which has been broadcasting country concerts live from Nashville week after week since 1925. Lynn has released 50 albums, many of which have charted, as well as countless hit singles.

“Honky Tonk Girl” was followed by “Don’t Come Home a Drinkin'” – taken by many as a warning to their husbands. “The songs were close to life,” Lynn once said. “We fought fiercely and made fierce love.”

The Academy of Country Music named Lynn “Artist of the Decade” in the 1970s, followed by a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1977, and she sold more than four million units in the US alone. “I wrote about my heartbreak,” she once told the New York Times. “But when you hear the songs, you just smile.”

With material from dpa

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