50 Years Ago Today: Patsy Cline’s Plane Crash, 1963
Music has had its share of famous fatal crashes. It’s not much of an exaggeration to compare one that happened fifty years ago in 1963 when we lost country legend Patsy Cline, to the one that killed rocker Buddy Holly four years earlier.
Singer Patsy Cline broke the mold for women in country music. She wore evening gowns and jewelry on stage, far different — and much sexier– than the gingham and calico preferred by most of her contemporaries in the ’50s and early ’60s.
Her voice was different, too. She could do honky tonk, and you can detect her home state of Virginia in her voice, but she sang her most famous songs — including “Crazy,” “I Fall to Pieces,” “Walkin’ After Midnight,” and “She’s Got You” — with a sultry cool. In 1961 and 1962, she was the top star in country, and her records were big pop hits, too.
On March 5, 1963, after doing a benefit in Kansas City, Kansas the day before, she was on an airplane back to Nashville. Near Camden, Tennessee, the plane flew into a storm and crashed. Cline, fellow country singers Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins, and pilot Randy Hughes all died. Cline is said to have had premonitions of an early death — perhaps understandable, because she had already survived two serious car accidents. She was 31 years old.
Today, Patsy Cline is the standard against which so many female country singers measure themselves. In 1977, she became the first woman inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. “Crazy” is the #1 jukebox hit of all time — pop, rock, or country.
In the video below, her dress and hair are a bit conservative, befitting the staging of the TV show she’s on — but her performance is magnificent.
Enjoy a few more videos, from Patsy Cline, Cowboy Copas, and Hawkshaw Hawkins:
Patsy Cline, “Walkin’ After Midnight”:
Cowboy Copas, “Alabam”:
Hawkshaw Hawkins, “Sunny Side of the Mountain”: