NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Before Dave Thornhill became a Wilson County sheriff’s deputy, he was the lead guitarist for Loretta Lynn in the group, the Coal Miner’s Band.

Thornhill first noticed Lynn in the 1960’s when she was featured in a movie.

“I didn’t know her then, but I told my wife, ‘If there’s any one in country music I’d like to play guitar for, it’s that lady right there,’ and four years later I was in her band for 30 years,” Thornhill said.

Thornhill told News 2 Lynn was like a sister to him, and he likely spent more time with the star than her own family, performing across the country in sold out shows.

“The one thing about Loretta, when she entertained, she always worked to the audience, and everybody who left her concert felt they knew her,” Thornhill said.

One of the stages Lynn perhaps spent the most time singing on was the Grand Ole Opry.

Dan Rogers, Vice President and Executive Producer of the Grand Ole Opry told News 2 the film based off Lynn’s life, Coal Miner’s Daughter, introduced the Opry stage to a worldwide audience.

“The audiences were always so thrilled to see her, and her fellow artists were too,” Rogers said. “Some of my favorite memories are just watching Loretta hang out and cut up with her fellow artists, folks she had been friends with for years and years and had a friend, family reunion with back stage.”

Every night this week on the Grand Ole Opry stage, artists will honor Lynn through song. In addition, Thornhill and the remaining Coal Miner’s Band members plan to put on a three-hour tribute show to honor Lynn and her legacy.

“Her music will last forever,” Thornhill said. “It’s just that simple.”