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February 1999 Article

Exclusively Found in the Insider Viewpoint of Las Vegas
“The Last Recording Session”
by Sharon Haynes

SharonHaynes.jpg (11608 bytes)
Sharon Haynes

Insider Viewpoint – February 7, 1963 The way it really happened…

The Jordanaires had just finished a recording session with Patsy Cline and it had turned out great! In fact, so great that most of the songs recorded that first week of February ’63 would go on to become a compilation album of "Greatest Hits" for her.

Only, she would not be around to reap the success, the stardom and the monetary rewards. Less than a month later at age twenty-nine, Patsy would lose her life in a fatal plane crash. Nevertheless, after that recording session, she was so excited, she was feelin’ on top of the world. She had already bought that white Cadillac convertible AND the dream house Patsy always longed for. Those possessions came from her hit records sales of "Walking After Midnite" and "I fall To Pieces."

She was "carryin’ on" with the Jordanaires that day about how "they can’t come take back my stuff now, I‘ve got me some hit records, boys! I can pay for it, and I’m a’ keepin it!" Sporting a new fur coat she had just bought, Patsy was excited. The fur coat, she felt was a necessity for her "Vegas run" which she performed for five weeks at the "Merry Mint Theater" in the Mint Casino November-December 1962. All she had talked about was really "pickin’ in that tall cotton" in Las Vegas and therefore went out and bought a new wardrobe.

Patsy was a pop-crossover sensation. In her mind, she could not come to Vegas with only that country-girl look - Patsy Cline was "Steppin’ Out." At the pinnacle of her career, she had the country loving her - even the rock-n-rollers who could not stand Country music loved Patsy Cline. She had arrived as a Country/Pop Great!

As she left the session that day, her last recording session ever, she heard Ray Walker of the Jordanaires say "Patsy honey, we love you . . . take care and be careful’. Patsy tossed that head back and glanced over her shoulder and said in reply, "I love you, too, boys. I tell you Hoss, I’ve had two bad ones already - so the third one’s either gonna be great, or it is gonna’ get me."

Patsy was referring to a couple of life-threatening incidences. One of which was a horrible auto accident less than a year before which almost ended her career, and almost her life. Huge scars were visible on her forehead and scalp even after she had several surgeries to help correct. This was the beginning of her wearing those signature-look bouffant, short dark wigs, her soft silky hair now was unable to grow properly because of massive scarring. After many weeks of recovery, she performed an initial comeback appearance on the Grand Ole Opry stage in a wheelchair. She was tough and determined. Only death would keep her away from the music and the audiences she loved.

Patsy flew to Kansas City three weeks after the completed recording session and sang several newly recorded, but not yet released numbers. Yes, they were going to be hits for sure, and the audiences went wild. After the benefit shows were completed, Patsy called home and Charlie Dick, her husband said "the babies" (Julie, 2 years and Randy 15 months) were running a fever. She loved those babies and had to hurry home. Hawkshaw Hawkins and Randy Hughes, Patsy’s manager and airplane pilot had wives expecting babies any day. Cowboy Copas, Randy Hughes’ father-in-law, was anxious also about his daughter ready to give birth to her first child. Everyone was in a burry, so in bad judgment they departed and flew in heavy thunderstorms in which even commercial flights had been grounded. As the small plane took off from Kansas City, less than three hours later and only 90 miles outside Nashville in Camden, Tennessee the small plane went down. Randy, not being an instrument-rated pilot, they believe, went into vertigo and flew the plane straight down into the ground, thinking he was going above the storm clouds.

Patsy was gone. However, that final session of recordings yielded more than three quarters of her greatest hits. Those hits would live on in music history and receive awards for Patsy even today, more than thirty-five years later. In 1995, they awarded her a "Lifetime Grammy Achievement Award" - they had already inducted her into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1970, seven years after her death.

 

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