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Loretta Lynn And Conway Twitty: The Dynamic Duo Of '70s Country

Music | November 21, 2018

Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty on 'Midnight Special' in 1973. (Photo by Paul W. Bailey/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

In the late '60s and early '70s, Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty were tearing up the country charts on their own. Conway's singles were all making the top 5 of, if not topping, the country chart, including his signature tune, "Hello Darlin'," released in 1970. Loretta released her signature track, "Coal Miner's Daugher" the same year, which was also a #1 country hit. In 1971, they first began recording as the duo Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty, a partnership that would become one of the most beloved and successful in the history of country music.

Together Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty released 11 studio albums and 12 singles between 1971 and 1988. Because of their strong artistic connection, the rumor mill buzzed that they were having an affair. Some even thought they were married. Loretta Lynn has dispelled the rumors by stating that nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, Loretta has stated that both she and her husband loved Conway, who died in 1993, as a friend. She said that Conway was the only one in the music business that Doo (her husband and manager) gave a “dad-gum” for. 

The Dynamic Duo Of Country

Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty

Many of Conway and Loretta's songs together were songs about a love affair gone bad or about loving someone you shouldn’t -- but that’s a big part of country music. The duo came out of the gate with five consecutive number-one singles: "After The Fire Is Gone," "Lead Me On," "Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man," "As Soon As I Hang Up The Phone," and "Feelins." Starting with Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man (1973), Loretta and Conway had a run of four #1 country albums as well. Their title of their 1977 album summed up their status in the country world: Dynamic Duo

The phenomenon of the male-female duets has been a longtime country institution -- including Johnny Cash and June Carter, Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner, George Jones and Tammy Wynette, and others -- and the pairing of Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn is at the top of the list in terms of chart dominance, fan following and accolades. As partners, they won four Country Music Association awards and an equal number of Academy of Country Music awards in the '70s.

Conway Was A Rocker Who Went Country

Conway Twitty

Conway Twitty was born Harold Lloyd Jenkins and was born in Friars Point, Mississippi, in 1933. He chose his stage name when looking at a map, seeing Conway, Arkansas and Twitty, Texas. His first #1 hit was “It’s Only Make Believe,” recorded under his stage name and originally released as a B-side. Because his voice sounded similar to Elvis Presley, many people thought it was Elvis using a pseudonym -- in fact, Twitty had worked with Sam Phillips at Sun Records for a time. "It's Only Make Believe" was, like all his recordings through the early '60s, a pop or rock song -- but country music was in his heart. Beginning in 1965, he started recording country music even though some disc jockeys on the country music radio stations refused to play his songs. His biggest hit came in 1970 when he recorded “Hello Darlin.” It was the very next year when he hooked up with Loretta Lynn and began singing duets.

Conway Twitty Died Too Soon

Conway Twitty and two of his children

Conway was married four times, one of whom he married and divorced twice. He had one son by his first wife, Ellen and three by his second wife, “Mickey” who he was married to the longest. His third wife, Delores was still married to him at the time of his death. In 1981, he had a freak fall when he slipped and fell as he was coming out of his tour bus, hitting his head. His family said he was not the same for a while after that. Then, in 1993, a devastating blow came to the country music world as well as to his family. While performing on stage in Branson, Missouri, he collapsed and was rushed to the hospital. The next day, at the young age of 59, he passed away of an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

Loretta Lynn, A Living Country Legend

Loretta Lynn. Source: Billboard

Loretta Lynn, now 87 years old, has been successful both as a solo artist as well as a duet with Conway Twitty. She has sold over 45 million albums and still continues to tour and make appearances at the Grand Ole Opry. Loretta was born in 1932 in Butcher Hollow, Kentucky and one of 8 children. Starting out early in life, she got married at the age of 15 to Oliver Vanetta Lynn (nicknamed Doo or Doolittle). The early years of their marriage provided the inspiration for many of her songs. Despite the problems, Doo loved her singing so much, he bought her a guitar and continually supported her in her music. With that $17 guitar, she began her road to success by teaching herself to play. She made her first single in 1960 with “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl.”  

Loretta Lynn's Roots In Butcher Hollow

Loretta’s childhood home in Kentucky

This was the home that Loretta grew up in with her parents and seven siblings. She loved her father very much. It was extremely hard on her and her father when her husband decided they needed to move to Washington, where Doo had found a job in logging. Her father worked in the coal mines and died in 1959 of black lung disease. He missed out on seeing how successful she had become in the country music industry.   

Loretta And Doo

“Doo” and Loretta Lynn

Despite the rocky beginning of their marriage, Doo and Loretta were married for almost 50 years. Through his persistence and hard work, Doo helped her get started and encouraged her in the music business. He did have a drinking problem though and was known for personally “providing” material for Loretta to write about in her songs. Together they had six children. Some of the songs she wrote and sang were “Fist City,” “Don’t Come Home a-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind)” and “You Ain’t Woman Enough to Take My Man.” One of her biggest hits was “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” which is also the name of the movie about her life.

Loretta Lynn was named “Artist of a Lifetime” by CMT in 2018 and is still making music.  

Tags: Conway Twitty | Famous Relationships | Loretta Lynn | The 1970s

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Penny Chavers

Writer

Penny, besides writing, loves to spend her time with family and friends. In her spare time, she also enjoys playing the piano, board games, and taking online classes on topics that interest her.