Few country artists can claim a career spanning 50-plus years, but Loretta Lynn can . . . and then some. She’s been a musical force since releasing her debut album, Loretta Lynn Sings, in 1963.
The country music icon celebrated her 89th birthday on April 14, 2021, affording us the perfect opportunity to celebrate 10 of her milestone accomplishments over the last 10 decades.
1930s: Birth of the Coal Miner’s Daughter
Loretta Webb was born into humble beginnings on April 14, 1932, in Butcher Hollow, near the mining town of Van Lear in Johnson County, Ky. Her father was a coal miner . . . and Loretta was proud to be a coal miner’s daughter, just like she said in her 1970 No. 1 hit.
1940s: Loretta Says ‘I Doo’
Loretta married her husband Oliver “Doolittle” Lynn in 1948 when she was 15 years old. Together, they had six children. She was married to “Doo” until his death in 1996.
Earlier this year, Loretta shared a heartfelt post on Instagram: “Today would be our 73rd anniversary. I can’t believe it’s been that long. We fought hard and we loved hard. He was my biggest fan and the real force behind my career. He’s the only man I ever loved. I miss you, Doo.”
1950s: First Guitar
About five years after the wedding, Loretta’s singing inspired Doo to buy her a Harmony guitar from Sears, Roebuck & Co. His prodding launched one of the most remarkable musical careers of any musical style. “I wouldn’t have started singing in the first place,” said Loretta of Doo’s influence, “and I wouldn’t have had the inspiration for some of my best songs, in the second place.”
1960s: Loretta Reaches the Top
In 1967, Loretta scored her first No. 1 single, and one of the most enduring of her career: “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind).” It was reportedly inspired by her husband’s struggles with alcoholism.
1970s: Groundbreaking Win for Lynn
In 1972, Loretta became the first woman to win the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year Award. Only five other female artists/acts have won the honor over its 54-year history: Barbara Mandrell (1980, 1981), Reba McEntire (1986), Shania Twain (1999), The Chicks (2000), and Taylor Swift (2009, 2011).
1980s: Country Music Hall of Fame
Loretta was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1988, along with Roy Rogers. Loretta had followed in the hallowed footsteps of her friends and mentor, Patsy Cline (1973).
Five months after suffering a stroke in 2017, Loretta returned to the Country Music Hall of Fame to pay tribute to inductee Alan Jackson.
1990s: ‘Honky Tonk Angels’
Loretta teamed with Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette to record the 1993 studio album, Honky Tonk Angels. Certified Gold by the RIAA for sales of 500,000 units, Honky Tonk Angels was Loretta’s 8th Gold record.
2000s: Grammy Power
Loretta earned her third Grammy in 2004 for Best Country Album for Van Lear Rose, which was produced by Jack White. Loretta was given the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.
2010s: Presidential Medal of Freedom
In 2013, Loretta was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama for her indelible contributions to the artistic and cultural history of the United States.
2020s: Loretta Lynn’s 89th Birthday
With country legends like Dolly Parton, 75, Kris Kristofferson, 84, Willie Nelson, 87, and Loretta Lynn still around, country music is in good hands.
“Y’all are spoiling me with all these awesome comments, posts, and birthday wishes and my family is heaping the birthday love on here at the ranch! Love y’all,” said Loretta on Instagram.