NUMBER 1 FAN GETS TO SEE LORETTA LYNN

Number 1 Fan Susan Reinhardt – Citizen-Times.com

There is only one woman in Marvin Stevenson’s life: Loretty.

That’s the name he’s always given country music legend Loretta Lynn, who’ll be at Harrah’s in Cherokee on Saturday. He has tried for years to see this coal miner’s daughter but was never able to nab tickets.

The last time she appeared at Harrah’s, he followed her bus to the Big Bear Café and peeped in the restaurant windows, to no avail. “Tons of people gathered, but it was impossible,” Stevenson said. “She’s the queen in my eyes.”

Stevenson, 41, has his house half decorated in Loretta’s photos and memorabilia, including all of her records. He wanted nothing more in life than to see his lady perform live.

Charles Pringle made that dream a reality. He’s the public relations director for Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Hotel. One fateful morning he dropped his dog off with a groomer, who asked if he could get any tickets.

“I said, ‘No, it’s sold out.’” Pringle said. The groomer told him about Marvin, a diabetic who almost died last January and was hooked to life support.

“Last time (Loretta) was here,” Pringle said, “he brought his lawn chair and sat outside and watched her bus and listened to music.”

Pringle wanted to do something nice for this man. “It’s such a quirky story and so incredibly Southern,” he said. “He’s a big fan, but not a scary fan.”

He told the groomer, “I will get him tickets.”

When Marvin found out about the tickets he nearly fainted. “I was stunned,” he said. “My nerves were going into a million different directions. I couldn’t even think straight.”

He said Pringle had come to his apartment in Sylva and notified him about it. “I spoke to him on Tuesday, and he was shocked that we were giving him tickets to see Loretty,” Pringle said. “He was shaking and tongue-tied.”

When I called a few days later, he’d calmed down a bit.

“She’s the queen in my eyes, old Loretty,” he said, excitement in his voice. “I’ve always called her that. My mom had every album she put out.”

He keeps her photo on the wall by his favorite chair. He’s got T-shirts, key chains, albums and “basically a little bit of everything.”

He loves Loretta because she is one of the few originals left, the real deal. “Country music anymore ain’t like what it used to be,” he said. “In my book, she’s an icon. She’s simply the best. She’s just down-home countrified, all natural. There ain’t too many of her around.”

He also said this is a lifetime experience for him, one of the best things to ever happen.

“I’m hoping by some odd chance I could meet her and get a photo with her,” he said.

This is the opinion of Susan Reinhardt. Contact her at sreinhardt@citizen-times.com.