He was the one who saw the potential in her singing and urged her to pursue it. But he also hurt her in many other ways.
It's rare to find a partner who's supportive of all your desires and deeds. There are some who stand by your side while you achieve your goals while there are others who are not just your morale booster but also the ones who push you constantly towards your dreams.
Legendary country singer Loretta Lynn was lucky to find her husband Oliver Vanetta Lynn. He was the reason that the singer had the confidence to move out of her constraints and shine under the spotlight. But for Loretta, not everything was as bright as her career. In her 48 years of marriage to talent manager Oliver aka Doolittle, she experienced everything, from love, pain, and horror to sadness.
Born as Loretta Webb in 1948 in Butcher Holler, Kentucky, the country singer's life is a true rag to riches story. She was the second of eight children, reported Country Living. The Coal Miner's Daughter singer saw and experienced what poverty looked and felt like first hand. "The winters were cold, so my mommy glued newspapers and pages from old Sears Roebuck catalogs to the wall to help keep the cold out. We didn't have money for wallpaper, but my mommy made that old house stay warm and beautiful," she said.
She was just 13 years old when she met Doolittle who was 21 at the time, unaware that he would be her future husband, reported History. Just a year later the two married and she became a mother to their first child when she was 14. By the time she turned 21, Loretta was a mother to three more children.
While she had accepted her role as a home-maker, her husband felt different. Amidst residing in a three-room house with no indoor plumbing, no running water, and a growing family, Doolittle heard his wife sing to their children and knew that she was as good as the ones on the radio. So, he gifted Loretta a $17 guitar on her 26th birthday, encouraging her to learn the instrument and she began her journey on the road to stardom.
As she shot to fame with her first single I’m a Honky Tonk Girl, things started to change for the couple. It seems, when Loretta was pregnant with her first baby and in her last trimester, she found out that Doolittle had been cheating on her. But, the couple overcame the obstacle and decided to work on their marriage, reported Amomama.
But, while the Miss Being Mrs. singer was busy building a life for the entire family, her husband was once again cheating on her. It was one of those nights when Doolittle came back drunk after being with another woman and he hit Loretta for the first time. But the strong singer wasn't one to suffer. “He’d smack me. I’d smack him; He’d pull my hair, I pull’d his hair. That’s the way it was,” she said.
Doolittle's drinking habits got worse as time passed. On another occasion, instead of going for the date that he had planned with Loretta, he came home drunk and pulled her by one of her pin curls as she tried to walk away. But the singer had endured enough and she swung a fist at him. Though she aimed for the shoulder, she ended up knocking out her husband's teeth.
Recalling the incident she told NY Times, "There was a hardwood floor, and I'm telling you, the teeth broke into tiny little pieces, and it seemed like they just kept falling. I thought, 'I'm dead. I am dead. I am completely dead.' But you know, he never said a word." Doolittle was left with no words and Loretta paid for the hospital bills.
Loretta revealed about her 48 years of marriage with an alcoholic, unfaithful and abusive husband in her 2002 autobiography Still Woman Enough. She once said, "We fought hard and we loved hard. I never knew what I was comin’ home to. I didn’t know if I was comin’ home to fightin’ or what. It was pretty rough. Doo drank a lot. There was a lot of times I’d have rather not come home. And if it hadn’t have been for my babies I wouldn’t have," reported Nashville Scene.
Loretta was aware of Doolittle's infidelity since the beginning. He also invited women over to their house, but she never gave up on him. She wrote in her book, "I put up with it because of six kids and I loved him and he loved me."
Loretta's songs were very relatable to the audience as she sang about real things that the people experience. Many of her songs were inspired by the things she was going through in her personal life. "I've never written a song that my husband wasn't in. Every song I wrote, but he didn't know which line he was in," she said, as reported by CBS News.
Fist-City was one of the songs where she was making it clear to the women that Doolittle was only hers. In her other autobiography title Coal Miner's Daughter, she wrote how a woman was trying to attract Doolittle but "I let her know she was gonna get a mouthful of knuckles if she kept it up."
In 1992, Doolittle underwent heart surgery. His legs had to be amputated after suffering complications from diabetes. Loretta put a hold on her career and dedicated her time to taking care of him. He passed away in 1996 at the age of 69.
She loved Doolittle even after suffering from things that he made her experience. In 2011 while talking to Time Out the 88-year-old said, "I think I see him everywhere I'm at, and everything at home and everywhere I'm goin'."