FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – I had a radio show on KTFW “Country Legends 921FM” in downtown Fort Worth from March 2008 until September 2010. It was my first time to be a country jock, having been a DJ on classical, oldies, and beautiful music stations. One of the things I learned quickly was that everybody, regardless of age, loved and still loves Patsy Cline.
Patsy Cline was born Virginia Patterson Hensley on September 8, 1932 in Gore VA. In her short music career from 1957 to 1963, she had nine songs in the Top 10. Her first big hit was Walkin After Midnight, written by Donn Hecht and Alan Block, released in 1957 and reached #2, recorded on the Four Star Label. In 1960, she signed with Decca Records and recorded I Fall To Pieces, written by Hank Cochran and Harlan Howard, her first #1 hit.
In 1961, she recorded “Crazy”, written by Willie Nelson, reaching #2. “She’s Got You”, released in 1962 and written by Hank Cochran, was another #1 hit for Patsy.
In 1963, she recorded her last big song, “Sweet Dreams”, written by Don Gibson. Gibson had recorded this song back in the 50’s and so had Faron Young, but it’s the Patsy Cline version that is most popular today. A movie was filmed later based on her life with Jessica Lange as Cline and Ed Harris as her husband, Charlie Dick.
On March 5, 1963, some 49 years ago this week, Cline, Hawkshaw Hankins, and Cowboy Copas boarded a private plane from Kansas City KS back to Nashville TN. They had been in Kansas City for a fundraiser for a local DJ who had passed away and it was now time to head home. The weather didn’t look too good. Country music star Dottie West was supposed to be on that flight but declined (West died years later in a car accident). About 30 miles or so outside Nashville, the plane got caught up in bad weather and slammed into the side of a mountain, killing everyone one board. Eddie Arnold and Roger Miller were on the scene early on after the accident (Miller had been close friends with her as he would open up her shows for the audience on tour). Patsy was only 30 years old at the time of her death.
She was also on television back in those days as well as radio shows like the Grand Ole Opy on WSM. And the wonderful thing about her music is that it wasn’t just country music she recorded but music that crossed over into popular music during that day.
Every Saturday night on KTFW for 2 years, I had a faithful listener who called each week named Dottie and she would say, “Ken, where’s my Patsy?”. I loved playing Patsy Cline songs on the radio. And I know my listeners did too. While she left us some 49 years ago, her music remains alive and will forever.