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
She was "carryin on" with the Jordanaires that day
about how "they cant come take back my stuff now, Ive got me some hit
records, boys! I can pay for it, and Im 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
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, Ive had two bad ones already
- so the third ones either gonna be great, or it is gonna get me."
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 ½ years and Randy 15 months) were
running a fever. She loved those babies and had to hurry home. Hawkshaw Hawkins and Randy
Hughes, Patsys 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.