The History Behind the Country Duo Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn

Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty were already superstars in their own right when they decided to join forces as a duo.

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Lynn broke onto the country scene in the 1960s with hits like “I’m a Honky Tonk Girl,” “Blue Kentucky Girl” and “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man).” Throughout the decade, Lynn proved herself to be a fierce songwriter with a voice to match, topping the charts with other such hits as “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind),” “Coal Miner’s Daughter” and “Fist City.” But before there was Twitty, Lynn also recorded three duet albums with Ernest Tubb that spawned hits like “Mr. and Mrs. Used to Be” and “Sweet Thang.”

While Lynn was racing up the country charts, Twitty was making a name for himself in rock and pop music. In 1958, he scored his first No. 1 hit with “It’s Only Make Believe.” Though he had moderate chart success with “Danny Boy,” “Lonely Blue Boy” and others, it took a decade for him to reach No. 1 again with “Next in Line” in 1968. The following year, he scored another pair of chart-toppers as he emerged into the country world with back-to-back singles “I Love You More Today” and “To See My Angel Cry,” which set the stage for a string of hits that helped Twitty dominate the genre throughout the 1970s.

During this pivotal time in his career, he joined forces with Lynn, who was also a major act in country music at the time. In 1971, he and Lynn became an official country music duo known as Conway & Loretta. The two met through Lynn’s producer Owen Bradley, who also produced Twitty’s country hits including “Next in Line,” “I Love You More Today” and “To See My Angel Cry.” Lynn and Twitty both had recording sessions booked with Bradley when the producer introduced them. But the pair had to overcome initial resistance from their teams about becoming a duo.

“It made sense to us and Mooney (Loretta’s husband), but not to anybody else,” Twitty allegedly says in his biography, The Conway Twitty Story. “Everybody else fought us on it. Of course, I was my own boss and stood firm. As for Loretta, she finally just had to tell everybody ‘Hey, we’re gonna do it and that’s the way it is.’”

In fact, Lynn credits her husband Oliver “Doolittle” Lynn for finding one of the first songs they recorded together that also became their signature hit, “Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man.” “We come in and he had that on and he said, ‘I found you a hit song,'” Lynn recalls to PBS’ American Masters of what her husband told them. “And Conway said, ‘I believe you have.’ He looked at me and I said, ‘I think it is a hit.'”

More than just a fluke endeavor between two music superstars, Conway & Loretta held strong for a decade, releasing 10 studio albums. Along the way, they sent such hits as “After the Fire is Gone,” “Lead Me On,” “Feelins” and others flying up the charts. For four consecutive years, Conway & Loretta won Vocal Duo of the Year at the CMA Awards, along with several other awards, including a Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo Or Group for “After the Fire” in 1971. They released a total of 13 singles, 12 of which reached the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart before disbanding in 1981.

Twitty passed away from an aneurysm in June 1993 at the age of 59. Lynn followed him nearly 30 years later when she died in October 2022 at the age of 90.

(Photo by Richard E. Aaron/Redferns)

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