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June 10

Married to the Bottle: Loretta Lynn and Husband Oliver Lynn Love Story

Loretta Lynn and husband Oliver Lynn’s love story was not one of the so-called fairy tales. In fact, it was one of those tragic and heartbreaking marriages filled with bottles of alcohol, abuse and violence, and infidelity. But Loretta said “I do,” and she did so for almost 50 years of their marriage, enduring all the struggles. 

So let’s unfold the timeline of their love story from their vows of “I do” to their “Till death do us part.”

RELATED: Top 10 Loretta Lynn Songs Of All Time

First Chapter: Fell In Love Too Fast and Too Hard

Loretta Lynn and Oliver Lynn’s love story had been dubbed one of the great legends in the history of country music. 

Loretta Webb or more commonly and popularly known as Loretta Lynn, first met her husband Oliver “Mooney” Lynn at a pie auction in Butcher Holler, Kentucky. While the auction was mainly a fundraiser event for a local school, it was also some sort of matchmaking activity on the side. 

Mooney was just fresh out from the Army after serving during World War II at the time. And he got clearly smitten with 15-year-old Loretta and her brunette beauty. He bid on her pie then walked her home. And everything just happened too fast – Loretta easily fell and fell too hard for Mooney who was not only a charmer but also had a reputation as a drinker and a womanizer. 

Just a few months later, or most accounts say it was only after a month, Loretta agreed to marry Mooney despite her parent’s wishes not to. Mooney was 21 then, and the couple had a 7-year gap. Originally in Loretta Lynn’s book ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter,’ she mentioned that she was just 13 when this happened, but the information was since corrected in 2012 after the Associated Press accessed her birth certificate. 

Loretta and Mooney finally married on January 10, 1948. A year later, they moved to Custer, Washington, as Lynn explored better work opportunities. 

Who is Loretta Lynn’s husband, Oliver “Mooney” Lynn?

Oliver Vanetta Lynn, Jr. was born on August 27, 1926, in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, which was a coal-mining town. He was of Irish descent and served in the US Army during World War II, and was later known as a talent manager and country music figure. He was known for his many nicknames like “Mooney,” which was short for moonshine, an alcohol that he used to sell and accordingly one of his favorites as well. Mooney was also called by Loretta as “Doo” from “Doolittle” though the origin of that nickname is still unknown. 

Loretta had always credited Mooney with her success as a country music artist. It was him who gave her her first harmony acoustic guitar, which he purchased from Sears for $17 in 1953. The then 21-year-old Loretta used this guitar to compose her songs, including her iconic song “Honky Tonk Woman,” which rescued them from poverty. He was also the one who pushed her to sing and perform, encouraging her that she was just as good and even better than the other girls who were singing. In an interview with Fresh in 2010, Loretta said that she had never tried singing in front of anyone before that. 

He also supported her music, traveling alongside her and visiting radio stations to get airtime for her songs. And even though they did not have a lot, Mooney never let Loretta miss career opportunities. One time, the couple slept inside the car and got doughnuts in the morning before Loretta’s big performance at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville in 1960. In her 2002 memoir ‘Still Woman Enough,’ she said that without Mooney, there would be no Loretta Lynn, country singer. 

Second Chapter: Married to the Bottle 

Shortly after getting married in 1948, Loretta became pregnant with their first child Betty Sue. And things started to get rough early on as Mooney sent her back to her parents as he was preoccupied with philandering. Even after reconciling, the couple still had a lot of fights and issues with Mooney’s womanizing. One time, Doo even slept with the wife of Loretta’s brother. 

And when she gave birth to their second child Jack Benny in 1949, he wasn’t even there. And there was also a time during Loretta’s early life as a mother when Mooney disappeared for two weeks. She and her children had to survive on dandelions and games that she herself shot in their own backyard. 

And in just six years of marriage, Loretta and Mooney already had four kids. They welcomed Clara Marie (also known as Cissie) in 1952 and Ernest Ray in 1954. Then, she got her big break in 1960 and got pregnant with her twins Peggy and Patsy (named after her best friend Patsy Cline) in 1964. 

As an artist, Loretta spent a lot of her time on the road, and Mooney continued on with his infidelities, inviting women after women into their home while she was away. And every time she returned, she didn’t know if she was coming home to a fight. In addition, Mooney drank a lot, which was the reason for his physically abusive acts. 

But Loretta stood up for herself and her kids. She would be there fighting him like she’d be fighting the other woman. Whatever form of violence he did to her, she’d get back the same way. It was pretty rough in their home. 

But there was one fight that she could never forget. Mooney was supposed to take her out, so she dolled up, but when he came home drunk, she knew they weren’t going anywhere. But then Doo got her on one of her pin curls, and she threw a punch at his shoulder, but she was shocked when it landed on his mouth. She heard teeth breaking into tiny little pieces and dropping on the hardwood floor. At that point, she thought that that was it and she would be dead, but he ended up saying nothing. 

But there were also times that she would rather not come home or just escape everything. But she stuck through it all because of her kids. She also added that despite their situation, they loved each other. And for Loretta, if you can’t fight for your man, then he was not someone worth having. 

Last Chapter: Through Sickness and Health… Till Death Do Us Part

And she did fight for Mooney. He had his heart surgery in 1992 and then was in and out of the hospital due to diabetes. And then the complications of diabetes cost him both of his legs. She put her career on hold to take care of him. But on August 22, 1996, Mooney finally rested in peace in their home. He was 69. 

And as he was dying, Loretta sang to him the last song she wrote for him entitled “Wouldn’t It Be Great.” It was about hearing him say he loved her one last time with a sober mind. She released the song in 2018 as the title track of her 45th solo studio album. 

Loretta Lynn and husband Oliver “Mooney” Lynn may have had a turbulent marriage, but they endured through it until death parted them. 


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Loretta Lynn, Oliver Lynn


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