Queen of country music Loretta Lynn was wed at 15 and had three young children with husband Oliver “Doolittle” Lynn before she was 21 and seemed destined for a hard life. She was raising her growing family in a three-room house with no running water or indoor plumbing — until Doo heard her singing to their children one night and knew she had what it took to be a star!
He bought Loretta a $17 dollar guitar for her 26th birthday and took her to local watering holes to sing with the house bands. In 1960, she recorded her first single, “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl” — and the rest, as they say, is history!
Loretta, now 89, became one of the most successful performers in country music, her songs expressing feminine strength and determination and a sense that women would no longer simply stand by their man. Some of her songs — “Fist City,” “Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)” and “The Pill” — were considered too risqué and were banned by radio stations!
But Loretta stood beside her songs and went on. During the highs and lows of her journey, she met and befriended hundreds of other singers. And NOT ONE of them ever had a bad thing to say about her!
Although she’s one of the brightest stars on the planet, with a fortune estimated at $65 million, her closest pals say she’s still the modest, down-to-earth woman she’s always been, and her ego has never gotten in the way of her sweet personality.
In fact, she says building her own career is something any woman could do!“I just set out to do my own voice,” says Loretta. “And you girls can do it too. You can do it just as good as me or better.” Her megafamous superstar friends like Willie Nelson, –Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire have sung Loretta’s praises for decades!
She met Willie Nelson for the first time in the early 1960s and says, “When I first came to Nashville, I met Willie and we did some shows together. I thought he was one of the most handsome men I’d ever seen.”
Both artists have done amazing duets over their long careers — but they never stepped into the studio with each other until 2016. -Loretta invited Willie to share the song “Lay Me Down” with her for her “Full Circle” album. The result was a beautiful and somber duet about the peace they hope to feel after death.
Later that year, marijuana fan Willie urged Loretta, then 84, to give pot a try for her -glaucoma.
“She’s got a lot of guts,” says Willie, 88. “She’ll try anything. And she’s got a great sense of humor.”
Says Loretta, “He’s one of the greatest people in the whole world. I know he smokes pot, but there’s a lot of people doing a lot worse than smoking pot.”
But she didn’t like the way weed made her feel and said, “It got me right in the chest. I’d like to have died. I guess glaucoma will have to take over.”
“It’s Five O’clock Somewhere” hitmaker Alan Jackson, 63, has nothing but praise for Loretta.“Her voice, there’s just something about it that sounds real,” he says. “She’s a real person, and she writes about things her fans can identify with. She’s one of a kind. She’s so likable. She’s the genuine -article, not out there singing like some star. She’s just -herself. Original.”
Dolly Parton, 76, and Loretta have been close friends since the 1960s. They partnered with Tammy Wynette in 1993 for the album Honky Tonk Angels, which reached gold status just two months after its release. Loretta and Dolly have often appeared at awards shows and on TV specials together. They keep up with each other and celebrate their successes.
In 2019, Lynn tweeted to congratulate Parton on the 50th anniversary of her induction into the Grand Ole Opry. She wrote, “Congrats to my dear friend, @DollyParton, for celebrating 50 years as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. She’s my mountain sister. I love her music and I will always love her.”
Dolly feels the same. She regularly puts out photos of herself and Loretta together on social media, captioning them, “Friends forever.” Adds Dolly, “Loretta is real. She speaks her mind. Her kindness and humanity are huge.” When asked who would be her closest competitor, Loretta names Dolly!
“Oh, yeah, you never know what she’s going to do next, she’s crazier than a loon! I love Dolly.” Tanya Tucker, another member of country royalty, is an -admirer, too.
“She’s a buddy,” says Tanya. “She calls me and we talk all the time. She’s one of my best friends. I love her.”