Loretta Lynn, country music legend, dies at 90

Loretta Lynn performs in concert at ACL Live on February 17, 2012 in Austin, Texas
(Image credit: Gary Miller/FilmMagic)

Loretta Lynn, an icon of country music whose incredible career spanned more than six decades, has died at the age of 90, the Associated Press has reported (opens in new tab). In a statement provided to AP, Lynn's family said she died Tuesday at her home in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. No cause of death was given.

“Our precious mom, Loretta Lynn, passed away peacefully this morning, October 4, in her sleep at home in her beloved ranch in Hurricane Mills,” the statement read (opens in new tab)

Born in 1932 in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, and married (with a daughter) by the age of 16, Lynn rose from humble roots as a coal miner's daughter (which inspired the name of one of her most famous songs) with a number of country hits that touched on previously taboo subjects in the genre.

Songs such as Don’t Come Home A- Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind) took ne'er-do-well husbands to task, while Rated X looked frankly at divorce. The Pill – written about birth control – especially touched a nerve with the conservative Nashville establishment.

“It was what I wanted to hear and what I knew other women wanted to hear, too,” Lynn told the AP (opens in new tab) in 2016. “I didn’t write for the men; I wrote for us women. And the men loved it, too.”

From the early '60s – when she was discovered by talent scouts after years of singing in clubs – on, Lynn would have more than 50 (opens in new tab) top-10 country hits.

In the mid-2000s – after two decades of mostly declining commercial fortunes – Lynn experienced a remarkable resurgence in popularity, thanks in part to Jack White.

White – long a huge fan of Lynn's – worked with her on the 2004 album, Van Lear Rose, producing, playing guitar, and singing backup vocals on the LP. Just as the American Recordings albums had done for Johnny Cash a decade earlier, Van Lear Rose – the biggest crossover hit of her career – brought Lynn newfound acclaim, and her music to a more alt-rock/indie-inclined audience. 

Lynn remained active onstage and in the studio, until she suffered a debilitating stroke (opens in new tab) in 2017.

She was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1988, and received a Kennedy Center honor in 2003. In 2013, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

"Her first guitar cost $17 and with it this coal miner’s daughter gave voice to a generation, singing what no one wanted to talk about and saying what no one wanted to think about," Obama said of Lynn at the time (opens in new tab).

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month*

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player (opens in new tab). Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder (opens in new tab) and Unrecorded (opens in new tab). Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.