Patsy Cline was truly a once in a lifetime talent, trailblazer, and character, whose influence lives boldly on in the hearts, minds, and music of today’s artists.
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 male country artists and match them drink for drink and smoke for smoke.
Although she had her first big hit in 1957 with “Walkin’ After Midnight”, Patsy’s real superstar moment began in 1961 when her husband woke her up in the middle of the night to show her a song written by a then unknown Willie Nelson after the two of them had been out drinking all night. You can read all of those details here, but he had even brought Willie back to their house, so Patsy woke up in the middle of a deep sleep to her husband yapping about a good song and a stranger standing in the kitchen… God bless her.
The song was called “Crazy” and would go on to be the defining moment of her tragically shortened career, as she died in a plane crash in 1963. But that fatal crash wasn’t the first time she was involved in a very serious incident.
On June 14, 1961, Patsy and her brother were involved in a horrible car accident. Her family was in town to see her new home and the two of them had been out shopping for material so her mother could make them some clothes.
On the way back, a car in the oncoming lane tried to pass another vehicle, and not seeing Patsy’s car, struck them head on, sending her flying into the windshield. Sam, her brother, had plastic stabbed into his chest from the steering wheel, awhile Patsy suffered a dislocated hip, broken ribs and wrist, and bad gash on her face,
Tragically, the riders in the other car took the brunt of the collision, as the driver, along with her 5 year old son, died despite receiving the medical care that arrived on scene.
Patsy was transported to Madison Hospital, and for awhile her injuries were considered life threatening, but she responded well to the treatment during her month long stay and was released on July 17th to recover at home with some crutches.
But someone as tough as Patsy wasn’t going to just sit on the couch all day and she was back performing shortly after.
Less than two months after the accident, she hobbled into a recording studio, supported by those crutches, and began to lay down vocals for numerous tracks, including “Crazy”, which she belted out in one take to avoid having to spend more time on her feet as the pain was getting to her.
Can you imagine that?
Bruised and broken, held up by a wooden crutch, but still able to sing the now legendary song that still brings tears to the eyes of listeners around the world. In just one take.
The song spent 21 weeks on the Billboard Hot Country Songs Chart, peaking at Number 2. It is easily the most recognizable song in her catalogue.
As with all of the other obstacles in her life, Patsy didn’t let the recovery, pain, scars, and bruising stop her from chasing her dreams.
Her life was cut short by a plane crash just two years later, but her influence on country music, especially women artists, cannot be overstated, not only because of her voice and music, but due to her unwillingness to accept anything less than the best she could do.