Love is the Foundation – Conway and Loretta
1977 AMERICAN MUSIC AWARDS - Airdate: January 31, 1977. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
A Country Music Legend: an electric connection that worked when they sang together. They were a singing sensation in the country music world.
Together Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty released 11 studio albums and 12 singles between 1971 and 1988. Because they had such a connection when they sang together, 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, she stated that both her and her husband loved Conway as a friend. She said that Conway was the only one in the music business that Doo (her husband) gave a “dad-gum” for.
Many of their 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. Just a few of the songs that made them so popular include “Lead Me On,” “After the Fire is Gone,” “Easy Loving” and “Love is the Foundation.” Did the songs inspire their lives or did their lives inspire the songs? Maybe a little of both or they received their inspiration through other people’s lives.
Conway Twitty was not his real name. That was his stage name. His real name was Harold Lloyd Jenkins and was born in Mississippi. The way he chose his stage name was that he happened to be looking at a map and saw Conway, Arkansas and Twitty, Texas. With his new stage name, he recorded “It’s Only Make Believe” and achieved improved success. Because his voice sounded similar to Elvis Presley, many people thought it was Elvis using a pseudonym. He released some songs that were rock and roll because country music was in his heart. Beginning in 1965, he started doing 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 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.
At 86 years old now, Loretta Lynn 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.”
This was the home that Loretta grew up in with her parents and 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. 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.
Despite the rocky beginning of their marriage, they were married for almost 50 years. Through his persistence and hard work, Doolittle (or Mooney as he was sometimes called) helped her get started 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 became “Artist of a Lifetime” by CMT in 2018 and is still making music.
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