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‘One of us’: B.C. musician recalls jam sessions in chicken coop with Loretta Lynn

The demise of Loretta Lynn has introduced again recollections to a B.C. musician who says he used to play in her band lengthy earlier than she turned a rustic music legend.

Len Lemieux of Penticton, B.C., remembers performing with Lynn, who frolicked in Vancouver and lived simply south of the Canada-U.S. border in Washington state. 

“She was simply certainly one of us,” Lemieux advised CBC’s B.C. In the present day on Tuesday following information of Lynn’s demise. 

Lemieux, 89, says he performed metal guitar in Lynn’s band, sitting in for her common guitarist Roland Smiley at gigs in Blaine, Wash., earlier than drawing the ire of native musicians and border guards.

He says when Lynn and her husband, Oliver “Mooney” Lynn, handed via B.C., they might cease at his Surrey house for jam periods earlier than heading out to play at a hen coop, at what’s now East Kent Avenue close to Elliot Avenue in Vancouver.

The coop, which was owned by a pair named Ernest Clare ‘Mac’ McGregor and his spouse Irene Loranger, was one thing of a music sizzling spot on the time, the place the couple held nation music jam periods and hosted a number of waltzes, prairie-style dances and hoe-downs.

Len Lemieux says Lynn and her husband, Oliver “Mooney” Lynn would cease at his Surrey house for jam periods earlier than enjoying at a hen coop, pictured right here (circled). (Museum of Vancouver)

Throughout her profession, Lynn was identified for showing in floor-length robes with elaborate embroidery or rhinestones, however Lemieux recollects seeing her at a bar in Blaine performing barefoot. She later wore what he describes as Western outfits, he says.

“These days they’d name it ‘ridiculous as hell’ nevertheless it match proper in for the outfits of the time,” he mentioned. 

Lynn was born to a Kentucky coal-mining household however moved to Washington state after marrying Mooney whereas nonetheless a teen.

Lemieux mentioned the couple led a hardscrabbled life that was mirrored in her music. 

A black-and-white picture of a white man and woman hugging.
Loretta Lynn and her husband, Oliver “Mooney” Lynn, seen right here in a 1982 picture, frolicked in B.C. earlier than she turned a rustic music star. (AP Picture/Antonio Carozza, File)

He recollects a narrative the place Mooney stole some chickens from a Washington state farm and took them to Smiley’s Bellingham house. There Smiley and his spouse plucked and gutted the birds then cooked them in a big pot. 

“All of us got here down and had an important day of music and hen,” Lemieux mentioned.

In 1959, Lynn’s skills caught the eye of some executives from an area Vancouver document label known as Zero Data.

“They actually preferred the way in which she sang,” author Rob Howatson advised CBC again in 2017. “They signed her and helped her document her first hit single.”

Lynn and Mooney later travelled south looking for success, which was something however assured. 

“All of us that knew them thought, ‘Oh, what are they doing now? My God, that is only a waste of time,'” Lemieux mentioned. “None of us had even a considered [how it] was going to finish up.”

Lynn went on to grow to be the primary lady ever named entertainer of the yr on the style’s two main awards exhibits, first by the Nation Music Affiliation in 1972 after which by the Academy of Nation Music three years later.

Lynn’s household says she died peacefully in her sleep Tuesday morning at house on her ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tenn.

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