My Kind of Country

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

Spotlight Artist: Patsy Cline (September 8, 1932 – March 5, 1963) – Part 3

After a successful run in Las Vegas, Patsy Cline returned to Nashville and Owen Bradley’s recording studio for what would be her last sessions. In February 1963 she recorded twelve new tracks, including a cover of Don Gibson’s “Sweet Dreams” and the Bob Wills classic “Faded Love”. She was unusually emotional and wept throughout the session; the emotion can be heard on both of these tracks. Bradley assumed that she’d had an argument with her husband, and when Charlie stopped by to see how things were going, he was quickly ushered out of the studio before Patsy saw him, so as not to break the mood.

“Leavin’ On Your Mind” had been released about a month before Patsy’s final recording sessions, in January 1963. It was the last single released during her lifetime. It reached #8 on the country chart, but unlike most of her previous hits, it was not a crossover success, stalling at #83 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Patsy Cline died on March 5, 1963 when the Piper Comanche aircraft carrying her back to Nashville from a charity concert in Kansas City, Missouri crashed amidst deteriorating weather conditions near Camden, Tennessee. Also on board were Grand Ole Opry stars Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins, and Patsy’s manager Randy Hughes, who had piloted the plane. There were no survivors. Patsy was interred near her home in Virginia, at the Shenandoah Memorial Park.

Decca continued to release Patsy’s singles and albums in the years following her death. “Sweet Dreams”, her first posthumous release, was a #5 country hit, and despite having been recorded previously by both Faron Young and Don Gibson, it is Patsy’s interpretation that is considered the definitive version. The follow-up single “Faded Love” reached #7 on the charts and was her last solo Top 10 hit. After that, her singles charted lower, if they charted at all. She returned to the Top 5 one final time in 1981, when RCA Records released an electronic duet of Patsy and Jim Reeves singing “Have You Ever Been Lonely (Have You Ever Been Blue)”.

In 1967, Decca released Patsy Cline’s Greatest Hits, which eventually sold more than 10 million copies. It held the record as the best-selling country album of all-time by a female artist, until the 1990s when it was overtaken by Shania Twain’s The Woman In Me. In 1973, Patsy became the first female solo artist to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Her name began to fade from the public consciousness, but was brought back to the forefront in 1980 when she was portrayed on the silver screen by actress Beverly D’Angelo in the Loretta Lynn bio-film Coal Miner’s Daughter. Five years later, Hollywood told its version of the Patsy Cline story in the film Sweet Dreams, starring Jessica Lange and Ed Harris.

Although her recording career lasted a mere eight years, Patsy Cline cast a long shadow over the country music landscape. Virtually every female country vocalist who has emerged since her death has named Patsy as an influence. Her songs have been covered by such artists as Loretta Lynn, Emmylou Harris, Reba McEntire, LeAnn Rimes and Sara Evans. Her Greatest Hits still holds the record for the longest run on the Billboard Country Albums chart for an album by a female artist, and she remains a best-selling artist for MCA, the successor company to Decca Records. We hope that you’ll enjoy our coverage as we look back at Patsy’s life and career throughout the month of January.

11 responses to “Spotlight Artist: Patsy Cline (September 8, 1932 – March 5, 1963) – Part 3

  1. Lep January 5, 2010 at 10:15 am

    Very nice write-up, Razor. Looking forward to more coverage.

    Would you say those two country music-related movies are worth watching?

    • J.R. Journey January 5, 2010 at 12:15 pm

      Coal Miner’s Daughter is a must-see for any country music fan IMO. It’s probably the best country music-related movie ever made. Sweet Dreams is actually a lot like it, but it’s been a long time since I’ve seen that one. Both are definitely worth watching, Lep. You might also want to look into Love Can Build a Bridge, the biopic of The Judds.

    • Derrick January 5, 2010 at 4:51 pm

      Forgive the language, but f*ck yes, get COAL MINER’S DAUGHTER immediately. A simple search on youtube will help you out. . .

  2. Bob January 5, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    Enjoyed your articles and both the movies mentioned, even though I’m not a LL fan. Love Patsy Cline’s music but didn’t discover it til the mid 70’s when Linda Ronstadt was on the cover of Time and the article mentioned her cover of “Crazy” by Patsy. I also read a book about Cline that was pretty good called “Patsy, the Life and Times of Patsy Cline” by Margaret Jones.

  3. Razor X January 5, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    Sweet Dreams is worth seeing but keep in mind as you’re watching it that Patsy’s family has disputed a lot of what was depicted in the film, particularly her marital problems.

    • J.R. Journey January 5, 2010 at 1:32 pm

      I remember hearing that. Patsy’s husband Charlie has disputed a lot of what has been said about their marriage over the years. Particularly the physical abuse – which really wasn’t all that uncommon in those days – and the drinking.

    • Steve from Boston January 6, 2010 at 12:01 pm

      I’ll keep that in mind as I watch the movie.

  4. Steve from Boston January 6, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    Great intro and coverage Razor, and just a sidenote, I was very impressed to learn that Bevery D’Angelo did her own vocals for Patsy’s singing parts in the movie, as did Sissy Spacek for Loretta’s singing parts, of course.

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