Laura Lynch, Dixie Chicks Founding Member, Dies at 65

Laura Lynch, a founding member of the Dixie Chicks, has died. She was 65. She died in a car crash in West Texas on Friday evening, her cousin Michael Lynch told CBS News. She founded the Dixie Chicks, now officially known as the Chicks, with Robin Lynn Macy and sisters Martie Maguire and Emily Strayer in 1989.

Laura Lynch and Macy shared lead vocal duties until Macy’s departure in 1993, at which point Lynch became the sole frontwoman. She was replaced by Natalie Maines in 2005. Chicks members Maines, Strayer, and Maguire issued a joint statement on her death.

Maines, Strayer, and Maguire are shocked and saddened to learn of the passing of Laura Lynch, a founding member of The Chicks. They hold a special place in their hearts for the time they spent playing music, laughing, and traveling together. She was a bright light.

Laura Lynch’s infectious energy and humor gave a spark to the early days of the band.

Laura Lynch had a gift for design, a love of all things Texas, and was instrumental in the early success of the band. Her undeniable talents helped propel the band beyond busking on street corners to stages all across Texas and the mid-West. The group recorded three independent albums with her on lead vocals before she left the group: “Thank Heavens for Dale Evans” (1990), “Little Ol’ Cowgirl” (1992), and “Shouldn’t a Told You That” (1993).

The direction of the group was very different in its pre-Maines incarnation, focusing on bluegrass, retro-country, and a cowgirl image, an aesthetic that proved locally popular in Dallas but was not destined to have national appeal. Although Laura Lynch declined to talk much in later years about the reasons for her departure, it happened at a time when famous Texas steel guitar player Lloyd Maines had joined the band as a sideman. Eventually Maines recommended that his daughter, Natalie, join the group.

There was reportedly talk of going back to a two-frontwoman format, but with management and prospective major labels seeing star power in Natalie, that idea was short-lived. Columbia signed the Chicks with Maines as the sole singer, and the trio began to break out in country music in 1997. Laura Lynch is often thought of when music fans recount the history of members who left superstar bands before they achieved fame, which stretches from Pete Best in the Beatles to Dave Mustaine in Metallica, and beyond.

But Laura Lynch was better-equipped to retire from music, as she did after leaving the Dixie Chicks, than many other musicians in her situation have been.

The same year Laura Lynch departed the band, she reconnected with her high school sweetheart and future husband, rancher Mac Tull, who had reportedly recently won $26.8 million in a lottery. She and Tull wed in 1997. In a 1995 interview with the society columnist of the Dallas Morning News, she made it clear that the exit had not been her idea, although she was accepting of it.

It can not really be characterized as a resignation, there were three Dixie Chicks, and she is only one. Noting that she was 37 at the time, whereas the two sisters in the group were 23 and 25, Laura Lynch wryly noted, the group is called the Dixie Chicks. When she was out there on the road having a bad day, it was awfully hard to be a Chick.

Laura Lynch has a 14-year-old daughter, and she is looking forward to spending more time with her. In a 2003 interview, she told the Associated Press that she had no regrets about not becoming famous along with the rest of the group in the late ’90s, but that she looked back fondly on her tenure with the original lineup, even though it had been hard on her health. It was worth it, she would get anemic all over again to do it.

The controversy that changed the course of the group’s fate in 2003, when Maines slammed President George W. Bush’s war policy in a London concert, obviously would not have happened if Laura Lynch were still the group’s singer, for obvious reasons.

And not least of all because Laura Lynch identified herself that year as having a very pro-Bush stance, saying, “I think the world of him.” Indeed, during their time on the Dallas circuit with her in the lead, they had played gigs attended by the future president. In June 2020, a quarter-century after her departure, the country music band shortened its name to “the Chicks” in response to public discussions about the appropriateness of the term “Dixie”, which has often been associated with the slavery era.

When the group was being formed with Laura Lynch in tow in the late ’80s, the band was named in part after the Little Feat song “Dixie Chicken”.