Legendary country music star Loretta Lynn became a wife at fifteen and a teenage mom, giving birth to four kids. However, she lacked moral support from her husband, Oliver Lynn, who cheated on her with a relative.
Loretta Lynn met her spouse Oliver Lynn at an auction held in Butcher Holler. While the event was intended to serve as a fundraising occasion for the local school, it turned into a matchmaking activity for the pair.
Oliver had just returned home from the army and was instantly enamored by Loretta’s brunette beauty and even offered to walk her home.
(L) American country music singer Loretta Lynn rests her head on her hand and reclines on a couch near some audio equipment on February 24, 1975. (R) Guitarist Loretta Lynn and her husband Oliver Lynn, Jr. at the Country & Western Music Awards, Hollywood, California, February 27, 1975 | Photo: Getty Images
GETTING HITCHED DESPITE PARENTS’ DISAPPROVAL
Like Oliver, the singer was just as besotted with him as he was a charmer but notoriously known to be a philanderer, a womanizer, and a heavy drinker.
Four months later, the newly lovebirds tied the knot against Loretta’s parents' wishes considering her age at the time (Oliver was 21). It was not long before the two started a family and had four children in four years.
The newlyweds welcomed their first-born Betty Sue in 1948 after moving to Washington. But their whirlwind romance was short-lived when Oliver left his pregnant wife for another woman.
An undated image of Oliver Lynn and Loretta Lynn during Party for Loretta Goes Broadway Benefit Concert at Plaza Hotel in New York City, New York | Photo: Getty Images
STARTING A FAMILY
He only returned when Loretta was close to giving birth. Being a teenage mom, the songwriter had to tend to not one but four kids that she had by the time she was twenty years old.
Young Loretta had previously suffered three miscarriages. In interviews, the star has admitted that she would have loved having access to birth control pills as a young woman.
Loretta Lynn poses with her twin daughters Peggy and Patsy in March 1972 in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee | Photo: Getty Images
In her memoir “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Loretta claimed she grew up being ignorant of reproductive matters stating she never knew where babies come from:
“I never knew where babies came from until it happened to me.”
Moreover, being a young mother wore Loretta down as she was singlehandedly putting in the effort in parenting her young ones because she barely got help from her husband.
CHEATING & VIOLENCE IN THE FAMILY
Instead, Oliver hired a nanny to do the hard work when Loretta went on road tours. While at it, he continued to disregard his wife's presence and absence and did not have any respect for her or their home.
Oliver once sent Loretta packing to her parents because of his urge to woo other women. But that did not only happen once. Whenever she left home, he would invite other women over.
Other than Oliver bringing in third parties into his marriage, he even went as far as including a family member into the mix. The country music figure cheated on his spouse with a relative.
Oliver slept with his brother’s wife, a bittersweet story for Loretta because the constant heartbreaks from her spouse also inspired one of her bestselling songs, “Don’t Come Home A’ Drinkin.” Irrespective of being hurt by his affairs, she still stood by him:
“I put up with it because of six kids. And I loved him, and he loved me.”
The "Somebody Somewhere" singer firmly believed that if a woman could not fight for her man, then the man was not worth having to begin with.
One other issue affecting the household was violence. While Oliver could not get his drinking under control, he once smashed jars of green beans because his dinner was late.
Loretta later confirmed that their arguments ended up in physical fights and that she used to challenge her husband's might at times. There was one stance where Oliver hurt his teeth and head, but the two managed to settle their differences and continued with their marriage.
Their union was saved by Loretta’s constant consideration of her kids and her love for the talent manager, which lasted until his death.
Oliver died on August 22, 1996, at age 69. He passed away at his home and had been hospitalized repeatedly since 1993 because of heart failure and diabetes. On how his dear wife felt about his passing, Loretta said:
“I think I see him everywhere I’m at, and everything at home and everywhere I’m going.”
She found it challenging to deal with Oliver's death and, at some point, even convinced herself that he was away on some extended vacation, being in denial.
In January 2021, Loretta honored the father of her kids on what would have been their wedding anniversary via social media. She reflected on her love with 'Doo,' she as she called him:
“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 was the only man I ever loved. I miss you, Doo."
OLIVER’S HELPED LAUNCH HER CAREER
Oliver played a significant role in Loretta becoming a music sensation despite ill-treating her and cheating on her continuously throughout their marriage. He encouraged her to pursue a musical career, showcase her talent, and make money.
According to Loretta, Oliver gifted her a $17 guitar to compose her first songs. In 2010, the star said she never considered singing in front of a crowd, but because Oliver believed in her talent so much, he boosted her confidence, and she began performing for an audience.
Oliver was so determined to see his spouse succeed that when she was still trying to get her foot in the door, he assisted in promoting her first single, "I'm Honky Tonk Girl," by mailing copies to radio stations.
Loretta wrote in her 2002 memoir "Still Woman Enough" that she could have never triumphed in her musical journey if it were not for her beloved husband:
“Whatever else our marriage was back in the days…without Doo and his drive to get a better life, there would have never been no Loretta Lynn, country singer.”
OLIVER INSPIRED HER SONGS
Apart from pushing her accomplished career, Oliver also inspired Loretta's hit songs from "Fist City" and Don't Come Here A-Drinkin," which stemmed from his excessive drinking and infidelity.
She previously stated that every other song she ever wrote involved Oliver, adding that he just ever knew which line he was in. Moreover, many female fans could relate to Loretta’s music because her marital woes were relatable.
LORETTA’S EARLY LIFE
Loretta was born to Clara Marie Ramey and Melvin Webb in 1932 in Johnston County, Kentucky, into a low-income family. She was raised in poverty during the Great Depression and has only been married once in her lifetime.
Though in her eighties now, Loretta had initially claimed to be younger than her actual age when she wed Oliver. But it proved to be inaccurate, and she ended up telling her spokeswoman that if anyone questioned her age, she should say to them it was not their business to know how old she was.
Daringly, despite her background and enduring endless heartbreaks within her marriage, the 89-year-old has risen against the odds and has led a successful career in her own right.
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