Loretta Lynn's Marriage to Oliver "Mooney" Lynn: What to Know

Despite evidence to the contrary, Loretta Lynn has only been married once, to her late husband Oliver "Mooney" Lynn, who was also known as "Doo" or "Doolittle." The couple wed in 1948, one month after they met when Lynn was 15 years old. They moved to a logging community in Custer, Washington, where Lynn became pregnant with their first child. It was Oliver who bought his wife her first guitar in 1953, and she soon started her own band, Loretta and the Trailblazers. In 1960, Lynn cut her first record, and the rest was history.

Lynn drew inspiration from her marriage for many of her songs, including hits like "Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)" and "Fist City," which was about a woman who was making eyes at her husband. "I wrote about my heartaches, I wrote about everything," Lynn told the New York Times in 2016. "The more you hurt, the better the song is. You put your whole heart into a song when you’re hurting. You can’t be protected. I didn’t try to be protected. I didn’t want to be protected. When I wrote a song like that, I was mad, and somebody else needed protection, not me."

loretta lynn mooney
(Photo: Getty / Michael Ochs Archives)

The 88-year-old discussed her marriage in her 1976 memoir Coal Miner's Daughter and her 2002 autobiography Still Woman Enough, where she wrote that her husband continually cheated on her. Oliver was also an alcoholic, and would physically abuse his wife. Speaking to the Times, she recalled one fight that began when Oliver came home drunk.

"Doo had told me he was going to take me somewhere on Saturday night," she said. "I had my hair all pin-curled up, and he came in, and he was drinking. And I knew he wasn’t going to take me nowhere. I set Ernest Ray down on the floor. And I started walking away from Doo, and he got me by one of my pin curls. I still had Cissy in my arms ’cause she was just a little tiny thing."

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"And I came around with my fist to hit him on the shoulder, but I hit him in the mouth and knocked three teeth out," she continued. "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. Click-clack-clack-clack. I thought: 'I’m dead. I am dead. I am completely dead.' But you know, he never said a word."

The couple had six children together — daughters Betty Sue, Cissy, Patsy and Peggy and sons Ernest Ray and Jack Benny, the latter of whom died in 1984 at age 34 while attempting to cross the Duck River near his family's ranch on horseback. Betty Sue Lynn died in 2013 at the age of 64 from emphysema. Mooney died in 1996 at age 69 of heart failure.