Patsy Cline (born Virginia Patterson Hensley; September 8, 1932 – March 5, 1963) was an American singer. She is considered one of the most influential vocalists of the 20th century and was one of the first country music artists to successfully cross over into pop music. Cline had several major hits during her eight-year recording career, including two number-one hits on the Billboard Hot Country and Western Sides chart.
Cline’s first professional performances began at the local WINC radio station when she was fifteen. In the early 1950s, Cline began appearing in a local band led by performer Bill Peer. Various local appearances led to featured performances on Connie B. Gay’s Town and Country television broadcasts. It also led to the signing of her first recording contract with the Four Star label in 1954. She had minor success with her earliest Four Star singles including “A Church, a Courtroom, Then Goodbye” (1955) and “I’ve Loved and Lost Again” (1956). In 1957 however, Cline made her first national television appearance on Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts. After performing “Walkin’ After Midnight”, the single would become her first major hit on both the country and pop charts.
Cline’s further singles with Four Star Records were unsuccessful, although she continued performing and recording. After marrying in 1957 and giving birth in 1958, she moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to further her career. Working with new manager Randy Hughes, Cline would become a member of the Grand Ole Opry and then move to Decca Records in 1960. Under the direction of producer Owen Bradley, her musical sound shifted and she achieved consistent success. The 1961 single “I Fall to Pieces” would become her first to top the Billboard country chart. As the song became a hit, Cline was severely injured in an automobile accident, which caused her to spend a month in the hospital. After recovering, her next single release “Crazy” would also become a major hit.
Between 1962 and 1963, Cline had hits with “She’s Got You”, “When I Get Through with You”, “So Wrong” and “Leavin’ on Your Mind”. She also toured and headlined shows with more frequency. In March 1963, Cline was killed in a plane crash along with country performers Cowboy Copas, Hawkshaw Hawkins and manager Randy Hughes, during a flight from Kansas City, Kansas back to Nashville.
Read more in the magazine…