Country Stars Mourn the Loss of 'Icon' Loretta Lynn: 'One of the Greatest There Ever Will Be'

Country Stars Mourn the Loss of 'Icon' Loretta Lynn: 'One of the Greatest There Ever Will Be'

The music world is mourning the loss of Loretta Lynn, the coal miner's daughter whose songs of triumph and struggle made her one of the pioneering queens of country music.

The three-time Grammy Award winner died of natural causes on Tuesday at her ranch in Tennessee, surrounded by family members. She was 90.

Her death sparked a flood of tributes from stars both in the country sphere and out, including Reba McEntireDolly Parton, Shania Twain, Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, Sheryl Crow, LeAnn Rimes, Carly Pearce, Tim McGraw and more.

Sissy Spacek, who won the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Lynn in the 1980 film Coal Miner's Daughter — which was based on Lynn's autobiography — remembered her late friend.

"Today is a sad day. The world lost a magnificent human being. Loretta Lynn was a great artist, a strong and resilient country music pioneer and a precious friend," Spacek told PEOPLE in a statement. "I am heartbroken. I send my deepest sympathies to her wonderful family, her friends, and her loyal fans."

McEntire, a longtime friend of Lynn's who has credited the star with inspiring her own career, shared a statement that compared Lynn to her mother Jacqueline, who died in March 2020.

"Mama and Loretta were four years apart, mama being the oldest. They always reminded me a lot of each other. Strong women, who loved their children and were fiercely loyal," the star wrote. "Now they're both in heaven getting to visit and talk about how they were raised, how different country music is now from what it was when they were young. Sure makes me feel good that mama went first so she could welcome Loretta into the hollers of heaven."

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She continued: "I always did and I always will love Loretta. She was always so nice to me. I sure appreciate her paving the rough and rocky road for all us girl singers."

RELATED GALLERY: Remembering Loretta Lynn's One-of-a-Kind Life in Photos

Parton honored the fellow country legend, writing, "So sorry to hear about my sister, friend Loretta. We've been like sisters all the years we've been in Nashville and she was a wonderful human being, wonderful talent, had millions of fans and I'm one of them. I miss her dearly as we all will. May she rest in peace."

"I'm always so flattered to be called a "trailblazer," it's the word that puts me in the company of such incredible female artists like Dolly, like Tammy and just like Loretta…" Twain began her tribute to Lynn on social media. " I know that when Loretta got to Nashville in the '60s there were hardly any women in Country music… it's in the '70s, because of women like Loretta, that the marketplace changed – that's when women started to really sell records, that's when women started to be played on the radio – that's why I even stood a chance! Loretta was an honest and authentic songwriter, proud of her working class background, proud of her Native American heritage, proud to be a woman and she had a wicked sense of humour about it all!"

She continued, "Her musical legacy is more important than she will ever be credited for. There is no Shania Twain without Loretta Lynn (and those that came before her) – constantly kicking the door down and finding humour along the way! R.I.P Loretta ❤️"

Meanwhile, Underwood shared a humorous anecdote about receiving a surprise slap on the backside from Lynn when they initially met.

"The first time I met Loretta Lynn was at the Grand Ole Opry at beginning of my career. I was chatting in the corner with another artist and someone walked behind me and smacked me on the rear end! I turned around and there she was…in a big sparkly dress…laughing as she continued to walk down the hall at what she had just done…" the country star wrote.

"This is one of my most favorite stories to tell. I think it sums up her personality pretty well. She was a cantankerous little pistol…friendly and sweet…never afraid to be herself and speak her mind.
Over the years, I have had the honor of singing for her…and also with her…in some of the most special moments of my career."

Underwood continued, "She is irreplaceable. She will be incredibly missed…but her legacy lives on in those of us whom she has influenced. I am truly grateful to have known such an amazing woman and artist. Thank you, Loretta, for showing us how it's done. May you Rest In Peace in the arms of Jesus and add your heavenly voice to the angel choir. Love you!"

Pearce, who has long cited Lynn as an inspiration and even released the song "Dear Miss Loretta" on her album 29, paid tribute with a black-and-white throwback photo on Instagram.

"She showed us all how to unapologetically tell the truth," Pearce captioned the post. "One of the greatest there ever will be. I'll be singing "Dear Miss Loretta" with a little extra love tonight at the @opry ♥️ Now she really is a Honky Tonk Angel 🕊 #RIP"

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Rocker Jack White has a long collaborative history with Lynn, and in an emotional video, said the late country star was "like a mother figure" to him. Though an unlikely pairing, White produced Lynn's 2004 album Van Lear Rose, and the two duetted on the track "Portland, Oregon."

"I said years ago that I thought she was the greatest female singer-songwriter of the 20th century. I still believe that," White said in the clip, which he shared to Instagram. "Loretta used to say to make it in the business you had to either be great, different or first, and she thought that she was just different and that's how she made it. But I think she was all three of those things, and there's plenty of evidence to back that up, too."

White continued, praising her "incredible presence" and "brilliant genius."

"What she did for feminism, women's rights, in a time period and in a genre of music that was the hardest to do it in is just outstanding and will live on for a long time," he said. "She broke down a lot of barriers for people that came after her."

The "Seven Nation Army" rocker said that during the recording of Van Lear Rose, there were moments where he "had to sort of just take a pause and step outside because she was just so brilliant I couldn't believe what I was witnessing and hearing."

"She was like a mother figure to me and also a very good friend at times, and told me some amazing things that I'll never tell anybody," he said. "Rest in peace Loretta, and god bless you."

Willie Nelson shared a pair of photos with Lynn, and said in a statement: "Loretta was a good friend and fantastically talented. She was a great writer, singer, and human being. I'll miss her a lot."

Loretta Lynn and Willie Nelson
Loretta Lynn and Willie Nelson

Courtesy Willie Nelson Loretta Lynn and Willie Nelson

Loretta Lynn and Willie Nelson
Loretta Lynn and Willie Nelson

Courtesy Willie Nelson Loretta Lynn and Willie Nelson

Rimes, who last year covered Lynn's "The Pill" at the Recording Academy's Sounds of Change social justice event, shared her thoughts on Twitter.

"oh, sweet loretta lynn… what a life! what an icon!" the singer wrote. "what a trailblazer! what a beautiful soul! may she rest peacefully with the angels. my heart is with her family and friends. #lorettalynn #riplorettalynn"

Chely Wright paid tribute, too, sharing a sweet series of photos of her with Lynn over the years to Instagram.

"Dear Loretta, I awoke this morning at 4:00am, thinking about you. I grabbed my phone and pulled up photos of us together over the years. I felt a warmth come over me and a sense of peace," Wright wrote. "Thank you for your songs, for your mentorship, for your friendship and for your love."

Crow, who performed with Lynn and Miranda Lambert at the 2010 CMA Awards, shared a photo of the trio from that night with a note.

"The news of Loretta Lynn's passing just came across my news feed and time stopped," she wrote. "There will never be another like her. May she forever sing with the angels!!"

Lambert shared her own photo and memories, writing, "I'm so heartbroken to hear about Loretta's passing. She was so kind to me and she blazed so many trails for all of us girls in country music. Thank you for all the songs. Miss you. Fly high. 🦋💙"

Martina McBride shared an emotional note on Instagram, saying that she and others "all loved her so much."

"It's so hard to feel like you have the right words. I can hear Loretta saying 'just take your time honey,'" McBride wrote. "We all loved her so much. There will never be another like her. I am so grateful that I got to know her, to spend time with her, laugh with her…..I was always a little astonished when she called me her friend."

She continued: "I know how much she missed Doo, her son and daughter, her mommy and daddy, Patsy, Tammy, Conway…she is back with them now. I can imagine her big beautiful smile and how happy her soul must be for that. She ended every phone call the same way…'I love you honey'. I love you too Loretta. I love you too."

George Strait paid tribute on Instagram with a photo of him pulling Lynn in to a hug, calling her "an amazing woman."

"We're sure going to miss @lorettalynnofficial. What an amazing woman and so unbelievably talented," he wrote. "Very thankful she shared that with all of us fans. God bless all of the family. Rest in Peace Loretta. See you down the road. — gs."

Both Alan Jackson and Darius Rucker also shared a sweet pair of photos with Lynn, with Jackson writing that there "will never be another Honky Tonk girl like you."

"She was an iconic legend and did things the way she wanted," Rucker added. "I am so blessed to call her a friend. I miss you already @lorettalynnofficial. Love you. And rest now you angel."

Wynonna Judd paid tribute by sharing memories and photos of the two together.

"When people ask me what my favorite movie is, Coal Miner's Daughter is my number one. Loretta has always been my favorite, from the time I can remember.

As a young girl, I learned about Loretta from listening to her on the Grand Ole Opry. She was the very first country concert I ever saw. I was 15 and living in a Vegas hotel for a bit, and I would go down to one of the casino showrooms to watch her show every night. I was mesmerized from the first time I saw her walk out onstage in her ball gown," she wrote"

I got to meet her when I was 20 years old. As I walked into the CMA's for the first time in 1984, she was the first person who came over and hugged me. Loretta was like an aunt to me. I would call her and she would tell me stories. Some of my fondest memories of Loretta come from her telling me all about her life in Butcher Holler. During one of my recent visits to Hurricane Mills, she gave me a Bible and a crocheted doily that her Mama made. I will cherish those forever. It's really hard for me to comprehend life without her. I will miss our chats on the phone, the sound of her voice telling me she loves me, and hearing her beautiful laughter {at my jokes}…

We mustn't ever forget how important this woman was…IS…to country music. Let us all turn up her music a little louder for the next generation.

Rest In Peace my beloved "Retty." I will always love you."

McGraw noted how much Lynn had inspired wife Faith Hill and their three daughters, as well as himself.

"There was no one like Loretta. She was a trailblazer for the genre and a role model for so many young women…. My wife and our daughters included. Sending our love to her family and all of those grieving today."

In her own post, Hill reflected on how important Lynn was to the genre before sharing a few personal experiences.

"Loretta Lynn was and always will be a national treasure.  She not only 'pushed the envelope' as the old saying goes…this woman was the envelope filled with stories of life.  A real life, as a woman.  What it meant to be a woman.  To be a wife, to be a mother.  Speaking plainly, truth-telling, you know…the real s—," Hill wrote. "So, by the time her undeniably trail-blazing testimonies reached the airways, that thing the music industry described as 'pushing the envelope,' Loretta had established herself as an original.  The original.
Loretta knew that women could break down walls.  And she did, for all women baring their souls and their lives.
I have so many personal stories with Loretta. There is one that makes me laugh every time I think about it.  We were at a very big award show and I was onstage getting ready to present and I look down at Loretta and she is yelling at me 'Hey, honey.  I love you so much, honey.'  She didn't care about where we were, because, you see, when Loretta Lynn calls your name, the world stops for a moment.
After the award presentation, I jumped down off the stage and went straight to Loretta and gave her the biggest hug and told her I loved her too.
We love you Loretta.
PS. When my song 'Take Me As I Am' went #1, Loretta sent this photo to me: 'To my Baby, I told you you'd get #1, didn't I?  I love you, Honey'"

Singer-songwriter Carole King shared a recent shot of Lynn on Instagram, and summed up her thoughts simply: "She was an inspiration. R.I.P. Loretta Lynn ❤️."

RELATED: Loretta Lynn Turns 90 with Help from Fellow Country Stars Dolly Parton, Carrie Underwood and More

Maren Morris took to her Instagram Story to pay tribute, sharing a throwback photo of Lynn set to "I Dreamed of a Hillbilly Heaven," which Lynn recorded in 1993 with Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette. Lainey Wilson did the same, sharing a photo of Lynn with the words, "Country music wouldn't be the same without you. Rest easy Loretta."

Ingrid Andress thanked Lynn for her contributions to the music world, writing on Twitter: "there are not enough words to thank you @LorettaLynn for making a path for women in country to ride on. your songs and stories will be with us forever. Rest in peace."

Mickey Guyton also paid tribute, sharing a sweet selfie the two snapped back in 2017, when Guyton opened for the country legend at the Ryman Auditorium.

"Rest in power sweet angel," she captioned the post.

Rising country star Parker McCollum wrote on Twitter that he'd be listening to "nothing but Loretta Lynn for the rest of the week" as he mourned the "absolute icon."

Singer Ty Herndon, meanwhile, called her "an angel in this industry and in this world."

Paramore's Hayley Williams, who's covered "You Ain't Man Enough (To Take My Man)" many times over the years, including for a 2010 tribute album to Loretta, said in a statement to PEOPLE:

"Loretta called me the night before we headlined The Ryman for the first time. She'd heard our cover of 'You Ain't Woman Enough' and really loved it, so she wanted to wish us well. I will never forget the way she said my name and how easy the conversation felt. What a woman."

k.d. lang — whose album Shadowlands featured a "Honky Tonk Angels Medley" with Lang, Kitty Wells and Brenda Lee and was produced by Lynn's longtime colleague Owen Bradley— shared two posts to Instagram, writing, "Swift rebirth my friend ❤️🙏🏼 Joyous. Fierce. One of a kind. I loved meeting and working with Loretta Lynn ❤️🕊🙏🏼"

Kid Rock — who Lynn previously joked she married — shared a tribute on social media, mourning the loss of his friend.

"RIP Miss Loretta. I find it very difficult to put your beautiful soul, talent and friendship into words right now... so I will use the ones you said to me and so many others, so many times…'I love you honey' Kid Rock," he wrote on Instagram.

Blake Shelton shared a simple note to Twitter, telling his followers: "Terrible news about Loretta Lynn passing away… Prayers to her family."

Poison frontman Bret Michaels also paid tribute to his "good friend" Lynn on Facebook, recalling the last time he saw her "a few weeks ago."

"My heart is beyond heavy today as I have just learned of the passing of my good friend Loretta Lynn. I saw her a few weeks ago, & we sang some songs together. She was an incredible person, an incredible human being & an incredible talent who forged the way for women in the entertainment industry," Michaels, 59, wrote. "I just spent time on her ranch, visiting with her & family. Singing songs & riding around on the ATVs & dirt bikes. One of the best days of my life was Thanksgiving when she sang Every Rose Has Its Thorn in the studio with me. She will forever be loved & missed."

In April, the country legend celebrated her 90th birthday with well-wishes from musicians all over the world.

"To us, you're always timeless and ageless and always will be," Tim McGraw said at the time.