After two bad accidents, one of country music's greatest singers, Patsy Cline, believed that her third accident would either be a charm or would kill her.
She was involved in a plane crash in a forest outside of Camden, Tennessee, and died on March 5, 1963, at 30. She left behind her second husband, Charlie Dick, and two children, Julie Simadore and Allen Randolph.
Even though her career was cut short, she is still considered one of country music's greatest singers for bridging the gap between country music with mainstream audiences.
Portrait of Patsy Cline on January 1, 1960 | Photo: Getty Images
Cline was a legendary singer whose career spanned only three albums. At 30 years old, the woman with the classic voice made a great impact in the world.
She was born Virginia Patterson Hensley on September 8, 1934, in Winchester, Virginia. In her early years, she was called Ginny in school before she eventually settled for Patsy.
Photo of Patsy Cline in circa 1958 | Photo: Getty Images
Cline was not one of those people who had the perfect singing voice at birth. Her booming voice developed after being hospitalized and treated for a throat infection and rheumatic fever at 13.
At 14, she auditioned for the local radio station and started giving her first radio performances. From dropping out of high school to working as a waitress, she had time to freelance as a singer.
Cline began singing with the Melody Boys and Girls, led by Clarence William "Bill" Peer. By the time she was 20 and had her first show in September 1952, she had become Patsy Hensley.
Every Saturday night, she began performing at Frederick County rail hub in clothes her mother made for her while singing steadily at the Moose Lodge in Brunswick, Md.
Peer and the band provided her with the right exposure that would eventually launch her career. Before her 21st birthday, she married Gerald Cline and changed her name to Patsy Cline, which became her professional name.
In 1953, she began performing as a regular on Connie B. Gay's Town and Country Time, and with the advent of television culture in the late 1950s, she gained a wider audience.
In 1954 she landed her first record deal with Four Star label and soon found herself singing with other larger bands before finally launching herself as a soloist.
After a few failed singles and separation from her husband, she became a contestant on the 1957 CBS television show Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts. She performed "Walkin' After Midnight" and won the contest.
The demand for the song was so high that it was rush-released as a single and became her breakthrough hit, peaking at number 2 on the Billboard Hot Country and Western Sides chart.
It would be Cline's only successful single for four years. The song made Cline one of the first country singers to have sold more than a million copies. That same year, she got married for a second time to Charlie Dick.
In 1961, under the direction of a new manager, Randy Hughes, she released "I Fall to Pieces." This single, which fans paid little attention to upon its release, not only topped charts but peaked at number 12, and she became a household name.
CLINE'S ACCIDENTS AND DEATH
On June 14, 1961, the country singer and her brother Sam Hensley, Jr. were involved in a head-on car crash in Nashville. The accident broke and dislocated her hip, broke her right arm, and caused extensive facial injuries.
When she spoke about the accident, she said she was glad to be back and thanked her fans for sending her over 1,200 get-well cards and letters.
Barely two months after she left the hospital, she was back to the studios and recorded "Crazy." The single became country's music standard and peaked at number 2 and 9 on the same publication's pop charts while becoming her biggest pop hit.
In 1962, she was at the peak of her career and had three more major hits with songs like "When I Get Through with You," "So Wrong," and "Imagine That." She later became the first female country artist to headline her show in Las Vegas.
In January 1963, she released one final single, "Leavin' on Your Mind." By February, she had recorded her final sessions for "Sweet Dreams," "He Called Me Baby," and "Faded Love."
While recording "Sweet Dreams," her singer, Jan Howard, revealed that she had predicted her death before it happened. She had raised a copy of her very first album in the air and said,
"Well, here it is…the first and the last."
On March 5, 1963, Cline was returning after performing at a benefit in Kansas when an intense thunderstorm interfered with the small private plane she was on. The crash killed everyone on board instantly.
Patsy Cline poses backstage at the Riverside Ball Room in Phoenix in 1960 | Photo: Getty Images
Before she boarded the plane after the benefit at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall, the weather was foggy, and her friend and fellow country artist, Dottie West, offered her a car ride. But she said,
"Don't worry about me, Hoss. When it's my time to go, it's my time."
This time was her time to go. Among those onboard were Cowboy Copas, Hawkshaw Hawkins, and the pilot, Randy Hughes. "Sweet Dreams" released post-humously reached number 5 on the Billboard country charts and 44 on the Hot 100.
After her death, her husband and children have worked tirelessly to preserve her name and memory. Her daughter served as a producer on the Lifetime biopic of her mother, "Patsy and Loretta."
Her children revealed that she was a hands-on mom who wanted to be there and support her family. Even though she loved her work, she would rather be at home.
Portrait of Patsy Cline in 1960 | Photo: Getty Images
Julie remembers coloring with her mom while Randy was blown away by the number of people invested in his mother's life at the 2012 opening of the Patsy Cline exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
Cline became the first female artist to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1973, and her posthumous success continued long after she had gone.
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