My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Remembering March 5, 1963


Forty-six years ago today, on one of the darkest days in country music history, a private plane carrying Opry stars Cowboy Copas, Hawkshaw Hawkins, and Patsy Cline, as well as Cline’s manager Randy Hughes,  crashed near Camden, Tennessee, killing all on board.  They were returning from Kansas City, where they had taken part in a benefit concert for the family of Cactus Jack Call who had died in an automobile accident.  Hawkshaw Hawkins was married to Jean Shepard who is still a regular performer on the Opry.

Cline’s musical legacy is well known, but Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins are unfamiliar names to many people today.   Here are some examples of some of the great music all three of them left behind:

The person making the introduction in this next clip is Little Jimmy Dickens, who is currently the longest serving member of the Opry, having recently celebrated his 60th anniversary as a cast member:

12 responses to “Remembering March 5, 1963

  1. Leeann Ward March 5, 2009 at 10:52 am

    Of course, I’ve known this story for awhile, but I just recently read about it again in Behind the Opry Curtain, which focused on the spouses reactions to the tragedy. The tragedy is heartwrenching enough, but thinking about who they left behind is always sad too. Thanks for commemorating, Razor.

    • Razor X March 5, 2009 at 9:03 pm

      Who is the author of that book, Leann? I’d like to get it.

      • Leeann Ward March 5, 2009 at 9:17 pm

        Robert K. Oermann.

        The book is pretty good, but it’s not especially meaty. It’s pretty straightforward and probably has a lot of information that people likely already know. It’s a good one for the collection though.

  2. Occasional Hope March 5, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    It occurs to me that Cowboy Copas is the forgotten man in this tragedy – Hawkshaw Hawkins gets mentioned occaisonally because of the Jean Shepard link, and I’d even heard him before, but I wouldn’t have remembered Copas was the other person killed if you hadn’t posted this, Razor.

    I enjoyed the duet with Patsy. The Crazy clip comes up No Longer Available, incidentally.

    That is a quite amazing outfit Little Jimmy Dickens has on.

    • Razor X March 5, 2009 at 9:02 pm

      The “Crazy” clip is working for me. I wonder if maybe it can only be viewed within the US.

      As many times as I’ve seen that newspaper headline, I never noticed until last night that it is inaccurate. There were four people killed on the plane, but only three of them were Opry stars. The fourth person was Randy Hughes, Patsy’s manager and the pilot.

      • Occasional Hope March 7, 2009 at 12:19 pm

        I do get a lot of that 😦 but it usually says that’s the reason.

        Anyway, for whatever reason it’s working today (from a different machine, but thta may not be the issue.) Great live version.

  3. J.R. Journey March 5, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    Great piece.

  4. Razor X March 5, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    Here’s a link to “Lonesome 77203”, which was a huge posthumous hit for Hawkshaw Hawkins, and is probably his best-remembered song:

  5. Leeann Ward March 5, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    Randy Hughes was married to one of Copas’ daughters, Kathy. So, she lost both her father and husband that night–all due to Hughes’ recklessness. He was warned not to fly that evening, but forged ahead anyway. In fact, in the Oermann book, it was mentioned that a guy who was noted for recruiting a lot of artists of the day to get their pilot’s licenses said that Hughes was one person who did not have the right type of personality to have a license. Sad.

    • Razor X March 7, 2009 at 10:43 am

      I didn’t realize that Andy was married to Copas’ daughter. I might have read it in the past — I must have — but if I did, I’d forgotten.

      They were warned not to fly that night; the weather wasn’t suitable for it. Dottie West, who was also at the Kansas City benefit but drove back with her husband, begged and pleaded with Patsy not to fly and offered to let her ride back to Nashville with them.

      Jean Shepard was pregnant at the time, which makes the story even sadder.

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