Remembering Patsy Cline
Today marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Patsy Cline. I will never forget hearing I Fall To Pieces on the radio for the first time.I was pretty young and I couldn’t believe the rich, expressive voice I was hearing. I was hooked!
If you don’t know much about Patsy, you should know if it wasn’t for her, women like Reba, Shania Twain and Miranda Lambert wouldn’t be as strong or as successful in Country music.
Here are some interesting pieces of trivia about Patsy. At age 13, she developed a throat infection and rheumatic fever. When she recovered, she had a booming voice. before that, she had the gift of perfect pitch, which luckily stayed with her. The name Patsy was given to her by her manager who took it from her middle name, Patterson. In 1955, she was signed to a small label who forced her to record songs only by their songwriters. it was limiting, but she actually thought no one wanted her! Wow. Her first song was not successful, but did lead to her first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. Her first televised appearance on the Opry was July 1, 1955 on ABC-TV.
Interestingly, Patsy did not want to sing anything but traditional Country, but legendary producer Owen Bradley finally convinced her to record the “pop” sounding Walkin’ After Midnight. the record label insisted she record it. She had no choice, as was typical with women artists back then. She performed it on the Arthur Godfrey Show wearing a cocktail dress instead of country garb ( the show called the shots on her outfit). She received a huge standing ovation. Patsy was a star. just like that.
In 1960, Patsy became the only member of the grand Ole Opry to gain membership by requesting it. Everyone else has been invited to join. It was there that Cline encouraged a 13 year old steel guitar player, named Barbara Mandrell, to go after her dreams.
Now here is how Patsy was a ground breaker She was the first woman to headline a tour and receive top billing over her male touring partners. She was the first Country female to perform at Carnegie Hall. Patsy also broke the payment barrier, demanding a reasonable sum based on her success. Patsy was able to call her own shots about what to record and where to perform. Unheard of for a woman.
When asked about her vocal style, Pasty once said “Oh I just sing like I hurt inside.”
Patsy’s death came as a shock to most. But her closest friends knew that Patsy felt she would not live much longer. She felt a sense of impending doom. After a 5 and a half year career, the 30 year old Patsy Cline died in a plane crash 90 miles from her Nashville destination, two days after her last performance. Driving rain and pilot error were the cause. Legendary singer/songwriter, and Patsy’s dear friend, Roger Miller, found the wreckage the next morning.
In 1973, Patsy Cline was the first female solo artist inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
R.I.P. Patsy. Thank you for the music!