Patsy Cline had just begun to experience success in the music industry when an airplane crash took her life on March 5, 1963. She was only 30 years old. But in an eight-year career she recorded more absolutely classic songs than the Rhiannas and Britneys could ever dream of.
Patsy had recorded some songs, and even performed at the Grand Ole Opry, but her music wasn’t hitting the charts. Then she went on television and performed “Walkin’ After Midnight” on the Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts program on CBS. She was a phenomenon. She then released the song and it made it to number 12 on the pop chart and number 2 in country, making her one of the first artists to have a crossover hit.
Her record contract, however, permitted her to sing only songs written by the label’s writers. And let’s face it, if you couldn’t write a song for that voice, you didn’t belong in the business. So it was a long four years before the contract expired, and she hit the charts again in 1961 with both “I Fall to Pieces” and “Crazy.” She had three hits the following year, including the number one song “She’s Got You.”
It’s hard to tell what classics never got recorded, because Patsy boarded a Piper Comanche following a benefit concert and headed along with three others for her home in Nashville. The plane encountered bad weather, and crashed near Camden, Tennessee, killing all aboard. She’s buried in her hometown of Winchester, Virginia.
Patsy Cline had a giant talent and leaves behind a legacy of wonderful performances. Today’s women of country music owe her a huge debt for opening the door to a country-pop sound. She was elected posthumously to the Country Music Hall of Fame.