Loretta and Doolittle Lynn got married 65 years ago today

Child marriage in coal mining country. Infidelity, alcoholism and gospel music. Loretta Lynn's success as a recording artist seems improbable unless one considers the rich vein of songwriting material that was her birthright. And it was on this day in 1948 that Lynn married Oliver Vanetta Lynn, Jr., or "Doo," who for better or worse helped project Loretta into the limelight, and changed country music -- and the role of female songwriters in the industry -- forever. [jump]

Accounts of her age vary, but by best guess Loretta was 15 (not 13) when she married Doo, short for Doolittle, also nicknamed "Mooney" thanks to his job running moonshine. Doo was 21, and Loretta soon became pregnant. The two moved to Washington state in search of a better life -- Doo didn't want to end up in the coal mines like all the other men back in Johnson County, Kentucky -- and they would eventually have six children together: four born before Loretta was 30, then a pair of twins when she was 32 and already an established country star.

Loretta and Doo would sustain a notoriously tumultuous marriage on up until his death in 1996. In her autobiography and in interviews, she's recounted how he was a philanderer and once left her while giving birth. While they fought frequently, she's been careful to add, "he never hit me once that I didn't hit him back twice."

When she was 21, Doo purchased Loretta a $17 Harmony guitar, which she taught herself to play while leaning up against their outhouse. Within a few years, he encouraged her to become a singer and after time spent performing with a local band, she cut her first record in 1960. With Doo's support, she'd soon play the Opry, and add her name to that elite (and too-small) trifecta of successful female country stars of the early 1960s: Patsy Cline, Skeeter Davis and Jean Shepard. In 1966, the song "You Ain't Woman Enough" made her the first female country recording artist to pen a Number One hit, paving the way for many women to follow.

Loretta's difficult relationship with her husband was immortalized in the 1980 Academy Award-winning film, Coal Miner's Daughter, and has also been immortalized in her collection of songs clearly inspired by their marriage. Happy anniversary, Loretta and Doo, you (seeing) star(s floating over your head)-crossed lovers, you.

"I'm a Honky Tonk Girl" - 1960

"Before I'm Over You" - 1963

"Wine, Women, and Song" - 1964

"The Home You're Tearing Down" - 1965

"You Ain't Woman Enough (To Take My Man)" - 1966

"Don't Come Home A' Drinkin' (With Lovin' on Your Mind)" - 1966

"Fist City" - 1968

"One's on the Way" - 1971 (Written by Shel Silverstein)

City Pages on Facebook | Gimme Noise on Facebook | Twitter | e-mail us