On this day in 1996, Loretta Lynn lost her husband Oliver “Doolittle” Lynn. He was a World War II veteran, a coal miner, and the reason the world knows his widow’s name. Earlier today, Loretta took to social media to share the sad anniversary with her fans and followers.
In the post, Loretta Lynn shared two photos of her and her husband. The black and white photos show a young Loretta and her husband. In the post’s caption, she wrote, “I lost him 26 years ago today. My biggest fan, my true love, my Doo.”
The Fiery Marriage that Forged Loretta Lynn
Loretta Webb married Oliver Lynn in 1948. Over the years, they had six children, more trouble than you could shake a stick at, and a love strong enough to weather all of life’s storms.
Loretta Lynn has never been shy about the fact that their marriage wasn’t perfect. She has said that Oliver was unfaithful and had a drinking problem. On top of that, the couple often got into physical altercations. However, Loretta never talked about those times like a victim. According to Biography, she once said, “Every time Doo smacked me, he got smacked twice.”
However, they loved one another enough to work their way through all of that. Loretta and Oliver Lynn stayed together until his death from congestive heart failure in 1996.
Over the years, Loretta turned the rough patches in her marriage into hit songs. Classics like “Don’t Come Home a-Drinkin’ (with Lovin’ On Your Mind)”, “Fist City”, and “The Pill” came from her life. So, you could say that Doo was also her biggest inspiration. He is also the reason that she’s a country icon today.
Without Doolittle, There Would Be No Loretta
Oliver gave Loretta Lynn her first guitar. That $17 acoustic from Sears was the beginning of her career. She learned to play it and used it to write her first songs. After a while, Doo came started prodding her to get out there and let people see her talent. He told her, “You’re just as good or better as most of them girls that are singin’ and makin’ money, so let’s make us some money.”
Later, Loretta Lynn said that she never would have performed publicly with Doo’s prodding. “I was really bashful, and I would’ve never sand in front of anybody,” she said. Then, when she cut her first single “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl,” Doo helped her promote it. The couple traveled around the country to visit radio stations in hopes of getting her song on the air.
In her memoir Still Woman Enough, the country icon plainly stated how important her husband’s support was to her career. “Whatever else out marriage was back in them days… without Doo and his drive to get a better life, there would have been no Loretta Lynn, country singer.”