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Music Stars Who Have Died in Plane Crashes

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The music world has been hit hard by air tragedies over the years. On Sunday, Mexican-American singing superstar Jenni Rivera and six others were killed when their plane crashed following a concert in Monterrey, Mexico. Rivera was a multi-media star, releasing hit albums of traditional Mexican music, starring in a reality show, releasing her own clothing line and hosting a syndicated radio show. Reports say she’d also just signed on for her ABC sitcom. Here are other musicians who lost their lives in plane crashes:

December 15, 1944: Glenn Miller, the trombonist and leader of a hugely popular dance band, was killed when his plane disappeared between England and Paris while he was entertaining troops.

January 26, 1947: Grace Moore was an American opera singer who died in a plane crash at the age of 48 in Denmark.

October 1, 1949: Buddy Clark, a Big Band singer died at the age 37 just as he was reaching new heights of popularity when his plane ran out of fuel, lost altitude and crashed in Los Angeles.

June 30, 1954: Gospel singers R.W. Blackwood and Bill Lyles died when their plane crashed in Alabama.

February 3, 1959: The day the music died.  The deaths of rock stars Buddy Holly, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson and Ritchie Valens was inspiration for Don McLane’s song “American Pie.”  All three were killed when their plane crashed near Mason City, Iowa, en route to a show.

March 5, 1963: Country singer Patsy Cline and singers Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins died in a plane crash in Tennessee.

July 31, 1964: Jim Reeves, a country musician known for “Four Walls” and “Welcome to My World,” was killed in the crash of a small plane in Tennessee.

May 9, 1967: Philippa Schuyler was a noted American child prodigy pianist who became famous in the 1930s and 1940s as a result of her talent and mixed-race parentage who died during a war correspondent mission to Vietnam.

December 10, 1967: Soul singer Otis Redding died when his plane crashed into a lake near Madison, Wisconsin.

September 20, 1973: Jim Croce, known for hits like “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown,” was killed in a plane crash near in Louisiana.

August 9, 1974: Bill Chase, leader of the jazz band Chase died at the age of 39 along with keyboardist Wally Yohn, drummer Walter Clark and guitarist John Emma when their plane went down in Minnesota.

October 21, 1977: Lead singer Ronnie Van Zant and guitarist Stevie Gaines of Lynyrd Skynyrd died in a plane crash in Mississippi.

October 5, 1981: Jud Strunk was a singer who wrote and recorded the song “A Daisy a Day,” which made the Billboard Top 20 on both the country and pop music charts who suffered a heart attack while flying his plane, which crashed in Maine.

March 19, 1982: Randy Rhoads, lead guitarist in Ozzy Osbourne’s band, along with two others, were killed when their plane allegedly flew too low while “buzzing” a band van on tour in Florida.

July 28, 1982: Keith Green was an American gospel singer and Contemporary Christian Musician who died along with 11 other people including two of kid children when their plane crashed after takeoff.

December 31, 1985: Rick Nelson, “Ozzie and Harriet” TV star turned rock ‘n’ roller, died when his plane caught fire and crashed in Texas.

March 21, 1987: Dean Paul Martin, former member of the 1960s band Dino, Desi and Billy and son of entertainer of Dean Martin, was killed with his co-pilot. The two, flying an F-4 phantom, were members of the California Air National Guard.

August 27, 1990: Blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan died when his helicopter crashed into a hill in Wisconsin, after departing from a concert.

March 17, 1991: Seven members of Reba McEntire’s band, along with her road manager and two pilots, were killed when their plane crashed in a mountain area near the Mexican border.

October 25, 1991: Bill Graham, who built an empire promoting concerts as rock ‘n’ roll turned psychedelic in the 1960s with groups including Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead and Santana, was killed in a helicopter crash in California.

October 12, 1997: John Denver, 1970s superstar with hits like “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” died in the crash of his experimental plane off the California coast.

August 25, 2001: Actress and R&B singer Aaliyah was killed in a plane crash in the Bahamas along with eight others. The plane went down shortly after takeoff.

November 24, 2001: Melanie Thornton, half of the group La Bouche, which had ‘90s hits such as “Be My Lover” and “Sweet Dreams,” died in an airline crash in Switzerland.

February 12, 2009: Two members of jazz musician Chuck Mangione’s band, Gerry Niewood and Coleman Mellett, were killed in a commuter plane crash outside Buffalo, New York, along with 48 others.

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