Patsy Cline was truly a once in a lifetime talent, trailblazer, and character, whose influence is still strongly felt in the country music world long after her death.
She was the first female inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, one of the first to actually move records and headline shows, and was a mentor and friend to other up and coming female stars like Loretta Lynn.
She was also a complete badass, known to belly up at Nashville bars with other male country artists and match them drink for drink and smoke for smoke.
But one story may show just how tough she was better than any other.
On June 14, 1961, Patsy and her brother were involved in a bad car accident. Her family was in town to see Patsy’s new home and the two of them had been out shopping for material so her mother could make them some clothes, and on the way home another car struck them head on, sending Patsy flying into the windshield. She was majorly injured, suffering a dislocated hip, broken ribs and wrist, and bad gash on her face, but riders in the other car took the brunt of the collision, with two of the three sadly passing away at the hospital.
Patsy’s own injuries were considered life threatening and she was rushed into life saving surgery. She survived, but needed to spend a month in the hospital recovering.
But like she was known to do, Patsy toughed it out and returned to performing just 6 weeks later.
Less than 2 months after the accident, she went to the studio to record some new material, including a song her husband heard on a jukebox that he thought was perfect for her, a tune written by a then unknown Willie Nelson called “Crazy”.
Fun fact: Patsy’s husband was out drinking with Willie Nelson and they went to her house in the middle of the night to wake her up and play the demo… but more on that here.
But she was far from fully recovered from the accident. They began tracking vocals for some other songs, but when it came time to record “Crazy”, she had to stop, unable to hit the high notes and was most likely exhausted from the whole ordeal. So they decided to call it a day and come back a week later to finish the recording. The backing track was completed by the musicians and saved for when she was ready, a rare technique for the day.
A week later, still far from fully recovered, Patsy went to the studio while still on crutches, propped herself up with one under her arm, and in just one beautiful take, laid down the vocals for what went on to be her biggest hit.
Can you imagine that?
Bruised and broken, held up by a wooden crutch, but still able to sing the now legendary song that, along with “Walking After Midnight,” still brings tears to the eyes of listeners around the world. In just one take.
Talk about a badass.
Patsy Cline died around 2 years after this in another tragic accident, a plane crash while coming home from a concert in Kansas City.
Her influence in country music cannot be overstated, not just because of her immense talent, but because of the stories that came out of her wild life.