Country music icon Loretta Lynn has died, her family said in a statement. “Our precious mom, Loretta Lynn, passed away peacefully this morning, October 4th, in her sleep at home in her beloved ranch in Hurricane Mills,” the family said. A cause of death was not announced. Lynn was 90 years old.
Lynn had been hospitalized in 2017 in the wake of recovery setbacks after a stroke that year. Following the stroke, the legendary singer-songwriter postponed the release of a new album, Wouldn’t It Be Great. She recovered and the album was eventually released in 2018, which she followed with 2021’s Still Woman Enough.
In a traditionally conservative genre, Loretta Lynn crafted singles about birth control and divorce. As she recounted on her signature 1970 song “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Lynn grew up in rural Butcher Hollow, Kentucky. She was married at 15, and her husband Oliver “Doo” Lynn pushed her to start performing at clubs. She signed her first recording contract in 1960 and made the charts with her single “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl.”
That same year, Lynn made her debut on the Grand Ole Opry. In the 1960s, she would find success with singles like “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)” and “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man).” Her rise to fame was chronicled in her 1976 memoir and its 1980 film adaptation (starring Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones), Coal Miner’s Daughter.
Her contributions to country music broke ground for female artists across the board and won her the first Country Music Award for a female vocalist in 1967. Several of her songs were pointedly sung from a woman’s perspective; she was openly threatening on 1968’s “Fist City” and sang about the stigma that came with being a divorced woman on 1972’s “Rated X.” “The Pill,” an honest song about birth control that Lynn herself co-wrote, got her banned from some country radio stations and was the most controversial song of her career. In 1972, she was the first woman awarded the CMA for Entertainer of the Year.
Lynn exerted influence over music well beyond the sphere of country. Jack White dedicated White Blood Cells to Lynn in 2001. Neko Case paid homage to her on a tribute single. Her music has also been covered by Best Coast, Paramore, and many others.
Lynn’s Van Lear Rose—one of Pitchfork’s top 50 albums of 2004—was produced by White. She was honored at the Kennedy Center in 2003, was awarded a lifetime achievement Grammy in 2010, and entered the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1988.