“Mommy never had no doctor when she had a baby,” Loretta Lynn wrote in a 2007 essay published in Esquire. “She’d send me and the kids to Grandpa’s, and I’d go back home, and there’d be a baby there. I’d say, ‘Momma, where’d this baby come from?’ She’d say, ‘A woman just left it.’ And I said to Daddy one time, I said, ‘Daddy, where did I come from?’ And he said, ‘I picked up a cabbage leaf and you were under it.’” Loretta’s father picked a lot of cabbage, because the country music legend has seven siblings.
Melvin Web and Clara Marie Webb (née Ramey)’s oldest child was Melvin “Junior” Webb. Loretta, born on Apr. 14, 1932, is the eldest daughter and second child, followed by Herman Webb, Willie “Jay” Lee Webb, Donald Ray Webb, Peggy Wright, Betty Hopkins, and Crystal Gayle. Learn more about the people Loretta calls kin.
Born on Dec. 4, 1929, per Wide open country“Junior” married a woman named Bonnie Faye, and together, they reportedly had nine children. Sadly, Melvin is no longer with us, having passed away at the age of 63 on July 1, 1993.
Herman Webb was born on Sept. 3, 1934, and lived to the ripe old age of 83. He stayed close to home, living in Van Lear, in eastern Kentucky, near the Butcher Hollow homestead where he, Loretta, and their siblings grew up.
The family lived in their “cabin on a hill” while their father worked as a coal miner. Loretta left home at age 15 when she got married, while Herman worked at Webb’s Grocery in Van Lear until his death on July 28, 2018, per Wide open country. He left behind three daughters with his wife Patsy Jean, six grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.
Willie “Jay” Lee Webb
Loretta isn’t the only one in her family with musical talent. Her younger brother, Willie “Jay” Lee Webb, was a successful country singer. Under the Jay Lee Webb name, he was best known for the 1967 song, “I’ve Come Home A-Drinkin’ (To a Worn-Out Wife Like You),” which was written as a callback song to Loretta’s 1967 hit, “Don’t Come Home A Drinkin’.” Jay led his own band around the Nashville area, according to All Musicand briefly worked with Loretta and her touring band.
He was married twice, first to Louis Davis (1961-1963) and then to Lou Anne Robinson. Louise gave birth to Jay’s first child, Yvonne Clara Webb, in 1962, but the young toddler died later that year after a bad illness. Lou Anne and Jay had two children together. In 1996, he passed away at 59 after battling pancreatic cancer.
Donald Ray Webb
One of the lesser-known Webb children, Donald Ray Webb (born on Apr. 2, 1941), flirted with the music business. His sister, Crystal Gayle, recorded a song he wrote, “Clock on the Wall,” something that brought him much pride. According to a listing at McDonald Funeral Homes, he was an avid fisherman and mushroom hunter. He lived in Wabash, Indiana, until his death on Oct. 13, 2017.
Including his siblings, Donald was survived by his wife, Debra, their two daughters, a son, and a stepdaughter.
Born on Mar. 25, 1943, Peggy Sue Wright followed Loretta and Jay to Nashville. As a child, she spent most of the ’60s and ’70s performing with her family. After she became a featured singer on Loretta’s show (she co-wrote “Don’t Come Home-A-Drinkin’” with Loretta), she made her solo recording debut in 1969 with “I’m Dynamite,” according to All Music. She had a string of minor hits in the 1970s. In the mid-1980s, she began performing as a background singer and costume designer for her younger sister, Gayle.
Peggy Sue was married twice – first to Doublas Wells in 1964 and then to Sonny Wright. They had one child together, a daughter who was sadly murdered by her husband in 1991.
Betty Ruth Hopkins
Born on Jan. 5, 1946, Betty Ruth Webb is the second-youngest of the Webb children. She happens to be the most private of them all, as little is known about her. Unlike her other sisters, Betty has stayed out of the spotlight and only really gets the public’s eye when she joins her siblings at family events.
Born on Jan. 9, 1951, Brenda Webb is better known by her stage name, Crystal Gayle. Like her other musically-inclined siblings, Crystal followed her passion to music glory. She found success in the 1970s and 80s and is considered one of the most successful crossover artists of that time. Her first major hit was 1975’s “Wrong Road Again,” and she topped that with 1977’s “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue.” She continued to release charting songs throughout the decade and won a Grammy in 1978 for Best Female Country Vocal Performance. Gayle is also known for her floor-length hair, a look that has become her signature.
“You know, I look up to my sister,” Gayle said in 2017 when discussing a rumored rivalry with Loretta, per The Boot. “We both have flaws in different ways, but we’re not gonna tell what they are, you know? But, I mean, we love each other… We overlook [the differences].”
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