Patsy Cline (born Virginia Patterson Hensley; September 8, 1932 – March 5, 1963) was an American country music singer. Part of the late 1950s/early 1960s Nashville sound, Cline successfully "crossed over" to pop music and was one of the most influential, successful and acclaimed vocalists of the 20th century. She died at the age of 30 in a multiple-fatality crash of the private plane of her manager, Randy Hughes.
Cline was known for her rich tone, emotionally expressive and bold contralto voice, and her role as a country music industry pioneer. Along with Kitty Wells, she helped pave the way for women as headline performers in the genre. She overcame poverty, an unsuccessful marriage, a devastating automobile accident, and significant professional obstacles, and has been cited as an inspiration by Reba McEntire, LeAnn Rimes, and other singers in diverse styles. Books, movies, documentaries, articles and stage plays document her life and career.
Her hits began in 1957 with Donn Hecht's and Alan Block's "Walkin' After Midnight," Hank Cochran's and Harlan Howard's "I Fall to Pieces," Hank Cochran's "She's Got You," Willie Nelson's "Crazy" and ended in 1963 with Don Gibson's "Sweet Dreams."
Millions of her records have sold since her death. She won awards and accolades, causing many to view her as an icon at the level of Jim Reeves, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. In 1973, ten years after her death, she became the first female solo artist inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. In 1999, she was voted number 11 on VH1's special, The 100 Greatest Women in Rock and Roll, by members and artists of the rock industry. In 2002, country music artists and industry members voted her Number One on CMT's The 40 Greatest Women of Country Music and ranked 46th in the "100 Greatest Singers of All Time" issue of Rolling Stone magazine. According to her 1973 Country Music Hall of Fame plaque, "Her heritage of timeless recordings is testimony to her artistic capacity."
She is also known as Virginia Patterson Hensley.
On March 3, 1963, Cline performed a benefit at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall, Kansas City, Kansas, for the family of disc jockey "Cactus" Jack Call. He had died in an automobile crash a little over a month earlier. Call was a longtime DJ for KCKN, but had switched to KCMK a week before his death on January 25, 1963, at the age of 39. Also performing in the show were George Jones, George Riddle and The Jones Boys, Billy Walker, Dottie West, Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper, George McCormick, the Clinch Mountain Boys as well as Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins.
Cline, ill with the flu, gave three performances, at 2 p.m. and 5:15 p.m., with an 8 p.m. show added due to popular demand. All the shows were standing-room only. For the 2 p.m. show, she wore a sky-blue tulle-laden dress; for the 5:15 show a red shocker; and for the closing show at 8 p.m., Cline wore white chiffon, closing the evening to a thunderous ovation. Her final song was the last she had recorded the previous month, "I'll Sail My Ship Alone."
Cline, who had spent the night at the Town House Motor Hotel, was unable to fly out the day after the concert because Fairfax Airport was fogged in. West asked Patsy to ride in the car with her and husband, Bill, back to Nashville, a 16-hour drive, but Cline refused, saying, "Don't worry about me, Hoss. When it's my time to go, it's my time." On March 5, she called her mother from the motel and checked out at 12:30 p.m., going the short distance to the airport and boarding a Piper PA-24 Comanche plane, aircraft registration number N-7000P. The plane stopped once in Missouri to refuel and subsequently landed at Dyersburg Municipal Airport in Dyersburg, Tennessee at 5 p.m.