Remembering March 5, 1963

patsy-clineToday is the fiftieth anniversary of the tragic plane crash that claimed the lives of Opry stars Hawkshaw Hawkins and Cowboy Copas, pilot Randy Hughes, and most famously, the now-iconic Patsy Cline.

Several events have been held to commemorate the tragedy, including a recent Country Music Hall of Fame panel discussion as well as the “Gone, But Not Forgotten” music festival that was held March 2 in Camden, Tennessee (the town in which the crash site is located).  The anniversary has also been the subject of some fine articles that are well worth reading, such as this piece

by Peter Cooper for The Tennessean.

Today seems like a particularly appropriate time to revisit the music of the three stars who perished that night, all of whom left behind strong musical legacies whose value has not diminished with time.

Embedded below is a video that features Patsy Cline singing her classic “Leavin’ On Your Mind,” the final single she released before her death, after which she had a pair of posthumous classic hits with “Sweet Dreams” and “Faded Love.”

Be sure also to check out Kevin’s fine piece on Cline from Country Universe’s 100 Greatest Women countdown.

Cowboy Copas performs “Alabam,” his twelve-week number one smash from 1960.

Finally, here’s Hawkshaw Hawkins with “Lonesome 7-7203,” his final single release and only Billboard number one hit.


  1. When I was a youngin’ in the 1990’s it was family tradition that my cousin and I would travel with his mother and mine. We were always taking the same vacation, every year. Going down to see their sister and her kids in Atlanta. 700 miles from Detroit to Atlanta down I-75. When you have that many miles to go on the open road you’ve got plenty of time to burn. Naturally, listening to music became one of the best ways to pass the time. However, given that we were the kids riding with the adults in the car, musical choice wasn’t ever an option we were given.

    Year after year, trip after trip we were subjugated to a splattering of genres; from 50’s rock & roll to 90’s lite rock, if it was recorded, we probably heard it. One sound in particular though became the dominate soundtrack for rides down I-75, country music. Country music was played back to back, cover to cover on CD after CD; and yes, since it was the 1990’s, cassette after cassette!

    Greatest hits collections or mix-tapes that my aunt made from the radio seemed most popular. It was a somewhat less eclectic variety, consisting of a variety of the older generation of artists. The case of CD’s and tapes that my aunt would bring along for just one trip was truly a sight to see! Her collection had the best of’s from the likes of Roger Miller, Willie Nelson, Eddy Arnold, Marty Robbins, Loretta Lynn and a host of 50’s, 60’s and 70’s country artists. One such artist in the bunch, probably the one that was played more than any of them though was Patsy Cline. To an 8 and a 10 year old kid, twangy country music was misery! You could say we went “crazy.”

    Adding to our myopic state was the belting vocals of two middle-aged women in the front seats singing every word “Crazy” and “Walking After Midnight”. To us it was the true companion of torture. Phrases like “this again” and “do we have to” were our accompaniments to their singing. We did exactly claimer to hear another Eddy Arnold or Patsy Cline album; make the music go away, that was all we could think.

    By no means will I sit here today and tell you that because of her death Patsy Cline (or anyone of the listed artists) is one of my all time favorites. Her death did not have the same effect on my life as it did on for my mother and her sister, something that happened in both of their life times. I can say however that her music made a lasting impressions for both of us.

    Life changes, 8 years becomes 26 somehow and with that so have the musical tastes my cousin and I have come to acquire. Nothing can be more true for a child than to say the environment and culture they are exposed to while growing up will make who they are as an adult. Yesterday, it was 12 torturous hours in a car going down 75, listening to music we couldn’t stand. Yesterday produced today though and because of that exposure we’re both undeniable country music fans.

    For me personally, an eclectic taste of country music artists and songs was acquired from the years car rides. Waylon and Willie to Kix and Ronnie and Loretta to EmmyLou. Patsy Cline, like each artist mentioned, may have taken country music in her own personal direction. Her music just like the rest, took a part of me with it and continues to this day to expose me to something new; new songs, new artists, new styles. For her music and yesterday’s lessons that accompanied, I am beholden to country music for the rest of my life and couldn’t be more thankful. Rest in peace forever and always Mrs. Cline, your musical gifts to the world will always be with me.

  2. If anyone is interested as well, there is a version of Patsy Cline’s “She Got You” done by LeeAnn Womack. She sings it on stage at the Grand Ole Opry and does a heck of a job with the song. I recommend checking out this video.

  3. My parents mostly listened to the same cassettes repeatedly as we were growing up: Peter Paul and Mary, Don McClean, John Denver, The Seekers, and Patsy cline. So, I have a soft spot for all of those artists, particularly John Denver and Patsy Cline.

  4. I discovered Patsy Cline’s music through a 1977 Time Magazine article on Linda Ronstadt. Towards the end of the article it says “She stands there and sings. She lets the rambling voice loose in terrain that seems to be well known. She finds new secrets. She goes up against the memory of Patsy Cline’s recording of Willie Nelson’s Crazy. Cline’s version was said to be definitive. It pales next to Ronstadt’s.” This made me want to check out Cline and I’m glad I did.

    @Leeann – Your parents have great taste. I like all those artists they listened to, particularly Denver, McLean and Cline.

  5. I love Patsy like most all country fans. I do find it interesting how many of Patsy’s big songs are done with pop instrumentation and yet she never got critisized like Dolly did. Granted, that lyrically Patsy’s songs were still very much country. There were so many female singers that attempted to cross over before Dolly, that after many years I have come to realize that Dolly was just more critisized because of her enormous success at it plus the fact that her REAL country songs were so outstanding people just didn’t want to give that up. Either way, Patsy always reminds me to try and understand that crossover to pop is nothing new in country.

  6. “…i love marilyn, jessica lange when she played patsy cline…” – i may have a soft spot for name-dropping, but this line in bobbie cryner’s “girl of your dreams” is still one of the finest examples that i can remember from the top of my hat. and probably no one ever sounded better when falling to pieces than patsy cline.

    liked your post, motown mike.

  7. I remember hearing cowboy coapas from my grandfather he would always play his record in the living room. Its a shame about the incident but his music will always live on.

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