Loretta Lynn and Naomi Judd, Nashville recording artists who were two of Kentucky’s most famous country music stars, could not be with their families for Christmas.
Lynn, whose life began in Butcher’s Holler near Paintsville, Ky., wrote and recorded “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” a song that charted on Billboard for 15 weeks, reaching No. 1 for one week.
Of the hundreds of songs Lynn recorded during her 50-year career, 16 charted No. 1 on Billboard and 50 registered on Billboard’s Top Ten.
The 1980 movie about Lynn’s life, “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” won an Oscar for Best Picture.
In Oct. at the age of 90, Lynn passed away on her ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tenn.
Judd, a Grammy-winning vocalist from Ashland, Ky. who teamed up with her daughter Wynonna to form The Judds recorded 14 No. 1 hits on Billboard, establishing the mother and daughter as the top country female duo.
Ironically, Naomi took her life with a gun the day before she and Wynonna were scheduled to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. She was 76.
Having battled PTSD, Naomi was heavily medicated at the time, having been treated for some time for her bipolar disorder.
Both Lynn and Naomi were honored by being included on signage on Country Music Highway (U.S. Route 23) in Eastern Kentucky while both stars were living.
Another female recording artist who did not get to celebrate Christmas is Olivia Newton-John, CMA’s Vocalist of the Year Award winner in 1974.
Newton-John crossed over to popular music a short time later, and she is remembered for her silver-screen role as Sandy. She starred opposite of John Travolta in “Grease,” the most successful musical film of all time.
She recorded two No. 1 albums on Billboard, “If You Love Me, Let Me Know,” 1974; and “Have You Never Been Mellow,” 1975; in addition to 15 singles that charted in the Top Ten on Billboard. Five of the 15 reached No. 1.
Newton-John was born in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England, UK in 1948. She relocated with her parents to Australia in 1954, after her father accepted a position with the Presbyterian College in Melbourne, Australia.
Bobbie Nelson, the elder sister of Willie Nelson, passed away at 91. She was a vocalist and pianist in the Willie Nelson and Family Band. She was born on New Year’s Day in 1931.
Mary Jane Williams, the wife of Hank Williams, Jr., was a famous American model and media personality who was born in 1964. She passed away at 58.
Bonnie “Woo” Taggert, a PR business owner who represented Chet Atkins and helped Vince Gill launch his Junior Golf League, passed away at 79.
Deborah McCrary died at the age of 67. She was a vocalist with the McCrary Sisters who worked with Eric Church and Martina McBride.
Anita Kerr of the Anita Kerr Singers won three Grammys during the 1950s and 1960s. The group provided background vocals for such famous country music stars as Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson, Hank Snow, Floyd Cramer and Jim Reeves. Anita lived to be 94.
Larry Strickland, a former backup singer for Elvis Presley, was married to Naomi for 33 years, and he noted that she was struggling for a long time to overcome depression and that she was under the care of more than one physician.
Unlike Naomi who committed suicide after a long battle with depression, Lynn died peacefully in her sleep. Crystal Gayle, Lynn’s younger sister, continues to perform as a vocalist who has recorded four No. 1 hits on Billboard.
Including the No. 1 hits on Billboard that The Judds enjoyed, Wynonna has had 19 songs reach No. 1 on Billboard after 39 years as a country music recording artist.