Loretta Lynn Dead at 90: Country Legend 'Passes Peacefully in Her Sleep' Family Says

Loretta Lynn Dead at 90: Country Legend 'Passes Peacefully in Her Sleep' Family Says

Loretta Lynn, a dirt-poor Kentucky coal miner's daughter who rose to the greatest heights of international stardom, died Tuesday morning at her home in Tennessee. She was 90.

"Our precious mom, Loretta Lynn, passed away peacefully this morning, Oct. 4, in her sleep at home in her beloved ranch in Hurricane Mills," her family said in a statement.

In April, the country legend celebrated her 90th birthday with well-wishes from musicians all over the world.

"To us, you're always timeless and ageless and always will be," Tim McGraw said at the time.

Married at 15 to a moonshine runner nine years her senior, Oliver "Doolittle" Lynn, Loretta was a mother of four by the time she turned 20. She started writing songs on a $17 guitar her husband bought her and singing in honkytonks to make extra money.

In 1960, she signed her first record deal and released her first single, "I'm a Honky Tonk Girl." A string of Top 10 hits followed: "Don't Come Home A' Drinkin' (With Lovin' on Your Mind)," "You Ain't Woman Enough (To Take My Man)," "Fist City." Many were inspired by her own marital woes.

"I went through a lot and I put up with a lot," Lynn told PEOPLE in 2010. "Every song I wrote came from my heart."


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In 1972, Lynn became the Country Music Association's first female entertainer of the year, and in 2003, when she received the Kennedy Center Honor, President George H.W. Bush called her "a national treasure."

Lynn's bestselling 1976 autobiography Coal Miner's Daughter revealed her impoverished childhood in Butcher Hollow in painful detail. It also served as the basis of the 1980 box-office hit that won a Best Actress Oscar for its leading lady (who was Lynn's personal choice for the role), Sissy Spacek.

She remained an icon to her fans, peers and much younger artists, among them Jack White, who produced 2004's Van Lear Rose and considered Lynn "an absolute genius. She was the greatest female singer-songwriter of the 20th century." The album revived her career with glowing reviews and two Grammys.

Loretta and "Doo" were married from 1948 until his death in 1996. They had six children, the eldest of whom, son Jack, died in a drowning accident in 1984. Of Lynn's seven siblings, the most famous is singer Crystal Gayle. Besides those survivors, Loretta also had several grandchildren.

Assessing what her legacy might be, Lynn told PEOPLE in 2010: "I really don't know that I've made a mark. I hope I have. And I hope I'm thought well of, that I never hurt nobody."

Lynn was hospitalized in Nashville, Tennessee, in 2017 after suffering a stroke at her Hurricane Mills home. The country singer was also hospitalized several times in her life for exhaustion and pneumonia — all the while continuing to tour concert halls and greet visitors to her ranch.

While Lynn was still not well enough to attend the preview party to celebrate her new exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville that August, she instead sent her daughter, Patsy Lynn Russell, off with what she called "a piece of me" – the two wedding bands given to her by her late husband.

"It took her so long to get one, I think he felt she deserved two," Russell said as she fingered the two identical bands, each studded with a row of small diamonds. "She took them off her finger and gave them to me today … It's kind of like she gets to go through [the exhibit] with me."

Though Lynn was singing around the home again and back in conversation with her Sony label to release her new album after it was postponed because of the stroke, Russell said her mother's main challenge was regaining her balance. But her progress within the span of six weeks left her family optimistic about her speedy road to recovery.

"The difference between then and now is night and day," said Lynn's grandson, Anthony Brutto, who summoned the ambulance for his grandmother after the stroke. "It's amazing to see the will and fire she has inside … Nothing can get her down, and nothing will get her down. … She's still witty. She's still very sharp. She's still very funny. When I went over there last week she said she's writing songs and playing the guitar, so it's really awesome to get to see that."

Lynn did everything it takes to get herself back on her feet for the ones she loves most. Her not-to-be-missed attendance at Alan Jackson's Country Music Hall of Fame induction that marked her first public appearance in Nashville since her health crisis.

"This is the first time I've been out of the house, Alan," Lynn said after being greeted with a raucous standing ovation by the 800 invited guests. "You're the only thing that've brought me here."

Lynn had been making great strides in her recovery until she suffered a broken hip after a fall at her home on Jan. 1, 2018.

"She had an accident on New Year's Day and fractured her hip," Russell told PEOPLE exclusively about her mother's condition at the time. "At my mom's age it's so dangerous when it comes to the hip, so we're all just grateful she seems to be okay. She's up putting weight on it and starting her rehab now."

And it may have been caused by playing with her furry new friend.

"She has a new puppy — we don't really know if she was chasing after the puppy or what, but she slid and fractured her hip. We blame the puppy!" said Patsy with a laugh. "Though the puppy brings smiles so there's that."

Whatever she endured at home, fans and fellow artists showered her with love. "She was beautiful and feisty and had this spirit that made you want to be better," Miranda Lambert, who spent time with Lynn, told PEOPLE. "She was one of the most genuine artists there is."