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Fans always came first for coal miner’s daughter

Everybody has favorite singers in their preferred music genres.

Personally, I’m a big country music fan and have many “favorites.” Loretta Lynn is among them.

Frankly, if you’re a fan of classic and traditional country, you know she is one of the greatest of all time and most likely is on your list of all-time greats.

Loretta Lynn died yesterday at age 90. In recent years, she’s battled some serious health problems. She toured into her 80s and in those later years she couldn’t hide the signs of her declining health.

While there’s no question her discography was nothing less than incredible, there’s another reason I got to love the lady as an entertainer. She always put her fans first.

She was from the old school where performing meant giving a show to please the audience and then sticking around long after to sign autographs.

I remember some years ago at Penn’s Peak, one of numerous times she performed there, I happened to be backstage after she finished her show. Some young dude traveling with her said she had a schedule to meet and had to leave.

She turned around, looked at the guy (who I presume was a manager), and said curtly, “Who signs your paycheck? We’ll leave when I say we’ll leave. There are people out there waiting for an autograph and I’m not going to disappoint them.”

I’ve seen about seven or eight of her shows and at every one, she stuck around for as long as people shoved things in front of her to autograph. Her fans always were put first.

It’s not the only time I saw her kind side. One time her bus had a problem and a part-time worker at the venue made the repairs. She was extremely grateful.

When she returned to the venue a year or two later, she saw that worker, reminded him that she remembered the kindness he showed and thanked him again.

Anyone who has ever worked with entertainers knows they can be a difficult breed. Often success means they distance themselves from the people who helped them to that success.

I could name some performers who, while backstage, refused to talk to any of the workers. There are some who waited in their bus until it was time to go on stage, then hurried back on when the show was over with no interest in autographs or meet-and-greets.

Loretta Lynn was different. She was a people person.

She also would never go on stage without looking her best. She would never pass you without a “hello.”

She grew up poor and had situations in life that could break a person, but she instead worked hard and turned those hardships into success stories. She never apologized for any chapter in her life because she was genuine in everything she did.

During her concerts, she always had family members on stage with her.

I’ll remember Loretta Lynn not only for the amazing songs she’s recorded over the years, but for how she never left stardom affect her personality.

Her priority on stage was never to disappoint. And she never did - on stage or off.

And that is her success.

Loretta Lynn accepts flowers from a fan during a 2007 concert at Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe. RON GOWER/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS