Sweet Dreams Forever: The Day We Lost Patsy Cline
Tragically, the country queen was killed in a plane crash near Camden, Tennessee on March 5, 1963.
If rock’n’roll fans came to describe the occasion of Buddy Holly’s death as the day the music died, many country music devotees feel much the same way about March 5, 1963. That was the day that Patsy Cline was killed in a plane crash near Camden, Tennessee, at just 30.
Virginia Patterson Hensley, as she was born on September 8, 1932 (friends called her Ginny in early years), was in the best singing form of her life when the accident cruelly took her. After an initial deal with 4-Star Recordings, her early success was on Decca in 1957, notably with the classy “Walkin’ After Midnight.” That had been followed by a quiet period in which she wasn’t seen on the country charts for the better part of four years. But from 1961 onwards, she had come storming back into style with some of the most enduring country songs ever made.
Listen to the best of Patsy Cline on Apple Music and Spotify.
The No.1 hits “I Fall To Pieces” and “She’s Got You,” and the indelible “Crazy” were augmented by a fine succession of singles such as “When I Get Thru With You (You’ll Love Me Too),” “So Wrong,” and “Leavin’ On Your Mind.” That last release was in the country charts on that terrible day in which she and fellow performers Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins lost their lives, as did the pilot, Randy Hughes. He was Patsy’s manager, and Copas’ son-in-law.
A Nashville tragedy
Ironically, the crash took place two days after Cline had performed no fewer than three shows, in one afternoon and evening, in Kansas City, as a benefit for the family of a DJ who’d been killed in an automobile accident. On the day after the shows, fog prevented the plane scheduled to take the party home to Nashville from flying. But despite continuing high winds and inclement conditions, they left on a flight from Fairfax Airport the next evening. The Piper Comanche plane crashed some 90 miles from Nashville, in a forest near Camden.
Patsy was buried in her home town of Winchester, Virginia, at a service attended by thousands of her fans. Within a few weeks, her song “Sweet Dreams (Of You)” was released as a single, taking on an elegiac quality as a fitting memorial to one of the greatest country stars.
Colin Escott’s liner notes for a 2000 compilation on Varese Sarabande of Cline’s early recordings contextualizes the way that her legacy has been enhanced with the passing years. “As if to underscore the difference between a star and a legend, she scored just nine hits during her lifetime,” he wrote. “She wasn’t a big star, but she became a legend. Her nine-year recording career ran to just over one hundred songs, but her style has so colored country music that few of today’s women country singers can tackle a ballad without making at least an indirect reference to her.”
Buy or stream The Very Best of Patsy Cline.
March 5, 2015 at 8:50 pm
She was such a great star. I really love singing her music in Branson, MO at Patsy Cline Remembered. Come reminisce with us starting April 7th at the Hamners’ Variety Theater.
March 5, 2015 at 10:31 pm
August 29, 2016 at 4:42 am
She was a great singer, I like her voice and music. The story is wrong, the crash was close or in DYER COUNTY , TENNESSEE, , NOT CAMDEN, IN ANOTHER COUNTY.
March 6, 2018 at 5:34 am
Peggy Weathers, NO, this is not in Dyer County! The crash site is in Benton County, Camden is the town where it happened. I was there to see the wreckage. There is a memorial site at the location of the crash, which is located on Mr. Carmel Road (at the time of crash, it was called Mulebarn Road, and Old Stage Road, on the back side of the local trash dump, which is now a Waste Management Landfill, on the West side of town.
March 6, 2015 at 12:49 am
The most beautiful voice ever! Though I was only 9 at the time of her passing I remember quite well the Newscast…tragic!
March 6, 2015 at 3:55 am
I remember Patsy like it was yesterday….the Greatest country female singer that ever was or will be ! R. I. P. Patsy .. your always in my prayers.
Frank (Ted) Bicking) '60
March 6, 2015 at 6:18 am
My mother, who wan’t crazy about music, loved ‘Crazy’ by Patsy and Gl;en Gray and his Casa Loma orchestra! The Patsy Cline museum in Winchester is well worth a visit. Her music can be heard all over Winchester and especially during Apple Festival time. You’d think she and Stonewall Jackson grew up together and founded Winchester, VA.
March 6, 2015 at 11:33 am
A fantastic singing voice and a lovely lady,it was a terrible loss to country music
March 6, 2015 at 1:44 pm
I can still be moved to tears by her music. What an amazing legacy
March 6, 2015 at 2:06 pm
Her music will never die such a great voice
March 6, 2015 at 5:46 pm
I love her music so much one of my moms favorites
March 7, 2015 at 3:58 am
Although i wasn’t born until 1970, Patsy Cline remains a favorite singer to me. I love her songs, Patsy, thank you for being a great singer. Love ya
March 7, 2015 at 5:55 am
I joined the Air Force in 1963. I was eventually stationed in Dover, Delaware Air Force Base.
To make more money I bought a booth in a week end Flea Market. A lady owned a record booth near me. She played Pasty Cline records almost all day long. so I have many fond memories of Patsy! Wow ,, could she sing !
Gertina van Staden
March 7, 2015 at 11:46 am
What a wonderfull time and music from that time to remember!
March 9, 2015 at 11:12 pm
Lover her music and songs
May 7, 2015 at 11:13 am
i have alot of her videos she was a great lady and sadly missed
May 10, 2015 at 10:52 pm
A music legend, such a beautiful voice! I love all her songs. Beverly De Angelo is spot on for looks and voice in Coal Minors Daughter, and Jessica Lange portrail in Sweet Dreams was stellar! Patsy Cline will never be forgotten…R.I.P Patsy, your still dearly loved by many!
August 7, 2015 at 5:13 pm
Heard Patsy Cline when I was 9 on KRAK radio while living in North Hihglands, Ca. where my mom worked at McClellan AFB. Those were happy times listenign to Hank Williams, & other singers at the time. I’m Mexican & loved to sing to these songs, it was my introduction to County Western music, long before it ever became what it is today. The “Hit Parade” was also big and I remember my mom and I alway listening to it & I would be singing along. It made her happy to hear me sing. I just kinda fell into Patsy Cline’s music and others.
September 12, 2015 at 12:20 am
I love Patsy Cline`s music. She is my favorite female vocalist of all time!
Let`s also remember Hawkshaw Hawkins, Cowboy Copus and Randy Howard who were also aboard the the ill-fated flight that day. Seems no one ever mentions these other wonderful performers who also lost their lives in the crash.
September 12, 2015 at 2:52 am
She was and still is the Lady of Country. I Love her music, she had the voice of a Angel.
September 12, 2015 at 4:38 am
I’m 42 yrs.old. I grew up listening to Patsy Cline and all the other country musicians from that time. Although my taste in music has broadand significantly. Patsy Cline and all those artists from those times are what made me the music contasoure I am today. If I could have one wish. It would be to experience all that wonderful music while it was fresh and live. Thank you so much Patsy Cline!!!!!
Jay B. McKee
February 28, 2016 at 6:17 am
September 12, 2015 at 6:12 pm
As an adult I love to hear her sing. I also, remember the HIT PARADE, both radio and mag. , those were the days where music was music not a bunch of noise.
January 21, 2016 at 3:16 pm
I met Patsy about 1958. My brother Leroy and I were booking carnival dates during the summer with an agent named Dick Obitz and so was Patsy. She was great even then. She used to look out for Leroy and I because we were so young. Her and Charlie Dick hadn’t gotten married yet I don’t think. The first tme I saw him he was wearing an Army uniform. I could go on and on about how wonderful she was but I think we all know that. Leroy and I were at the funeral
January 21, 2016 at 7:06 pm
SAD SO SAD REMEMBER THAT DAY LIKE YESTERDAY
January 22, 2016 at 9:00 am
Old classic country is the best. R.I.P Patsy
January 22, 2016 at 7:35 pm
Patsy Cline’s half-sister used to be my next door neighbor. She was musically talented also. A very lovely lady and a wonderful neighbor.
February 21, 2016 at 7:17 pm
There’s was only one patsy cline, lots of people have sang the songs that she made popular, but when she recorded a song she made it Hers and no matter how much time passes Her songs remain popular and relevant !
March 4, 2016 at 5:47 am
Sad to lose you and your lively voice
March 5, 2016 at 11:39 pm
Tragic::Let us not forget Hawkshaw, Cowboy and Randy as we normally do. Kathy Copas Hughes lost her Father and Husband. Harold Franklin Hawkins left Wife Jean Shepard and unborn Jr. I miss all of them… Love to the families
March 6, 2016 at 3:58 am
Hawkshaw Hawkins was also on that plane & was killed But he is never mentioned. Why!!!
He left a pregneant wife at home. Her name was Jean Shepard.
Gilley Van Power
March 7, 2016 at 2:38 am
Patsy had the most beautiful voice country music ever had. Loved her,she sang like an angel. R.I P Patsy Cline…..
March 5, 2017 at 3:51 pm
I love the play Always Patsy Cline based on her life traveling the usa. Always loved her. No country singers like her anymore.
March 5, 2017 at 6:42 pm
One the best legacy’s ever !
March 5, 2017 at 6:45 pm
I grew up in Winchester. Patsy is buried not 30 yards from my father, Ed Campbell, in the Shenandoah Memorial Cemetary, on 522 S of Winchester. My maternal grandparents, aunts and uncles, and brother are also in that Cemetary.
March 5, 2017 at 7:23 pm
She was one of the great voices and wonderful ladies of country music. We should also remember Jack Anglin who teamed with Jonny Wright (husband of Kitty Wells) to perform as Johnny & Jack. Jack Anglin was killed in a car accident three days later while travelling to a memorial service for Patsy Cline.
March 6, 2017 at 4:48 am
She was for me THE best country star for always weekloon I listen her music,so beautiful to hear,they will always remain in my mind and her music lives by as long as I live
March 6, 2018 at 3:05 am
All these accolades are tremendous. I was in the Army in Germany when the plane crashed. Tried to get a deferment home claiming Patsy was my sister (actually no relation) My CO saw right thru my ruse. Got 30 days KP duty She affected lots of folks
March 19, 2018 at 9:35 pm
When I was a teenager and I felt so alone, her song “I Love You So Much It Hurts Me” gave me consolation and strength to go on living. Thanks Patsy!