When country music icon Loretta Lynn said she dealt with her fair share of misery in her long life, she wasn’t exaggerating. But de ella family members said that no loss hit her quite as hard as that of her oldest son de ella.
At times, life on the road was hard on the “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” leading to hospitalizations. And, as it would turn out, she was already in intensive care when she learned of her son’s death from her.
Loretta Lynn’s oldest son died at 34 in 1984
In 1984, Lynn’s oldest son, Jack Benny, went out for a ride on his horse at the family ranch in Tennessee and never returned. Authorities found his body de él in a river the next day, with his horse de él waiting on land nearby. They suspected he had tried to ford the river that cuts through Lynn’s property called Hurricane Mills.
Though Lynn had a daughter older than Jack, and six kids total, he was said to be her favorite. “They were very close,” daughter Patsy said (People). “It was probably because he took after my dad.”
Jack also had some health problems, partly caused by drinking, and had joined his father in quitting. He was married to a four-year-old and two teenage children from a previous relationship. Patsy said,[He’d] straightened up and started taking care of his family.”
Loretta Lynn was hospitalized when she found out about her son’s death
Lynn was on tour when Jack died, and the morning after, she was found unconscious on her bus before she’d ever received the news. An ambulance took her to a nearby hospital, where she was kept in intensive care and diagnosed with exhaustion.
Her husband, Oliver Lynn, whom she married as a teenager, made the trip to her side when he delivered the news of Jack’s death. “She took it much better than we expected,” her manager, David Skepner, said at the time (People). “Loretta’s going to be all right.”
But Patsy said her mom “tore all to pieces” over the loss. Lynn flew by chartered plane back to Nashville and remained in the hospital until the day of her funeral. After that, Skepner admitted, “It’s finally started to hit her,” adding, “She’s one worn-out lady.”
“She does what she has to do and collapses later,” he described. “Without that drive, superstars wouldn’t be superstars.”
Loretta Lynn’s life on the road put her in the hospital dozens of times
In the ’80s, Lynn was still touring and financially responsible for her large family after more than two decades on the road. Sometimes, the pressure caught up to the “Fist City” singer, and she was hospitalized for various ailments, which included unexplained blackouts.
Lynn confessed at one point that she tried to cope by using pills that “put [her] to sleep,” but Skepner emphasized no medications were involved when she collapsed before learning of Jack’s death. “The root cause is exhaustion,” he explained. “There wasn’t anything else wrong.”
And Lynn was doing more than making a name for herself and caring for her family with all that hard work. She was blazing a path for other “girl singers” to follow in country music.
RELATED: Loretta Lynn Said Her Life Ran ‘From Misery to Happiness — and Sometimes Back to Misery’