How Did Patsy Cline Die? The Heartbreaking Story

how did patsy cline die
Patsy Cline promotional photograph, circa 1957. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Patsy Cline’s was life and career cut short by one wrong decision of another person, and it breaks our hearts every single time.

She was a legend giving us classic country songs such as “Crazy,” “Walkin’ After Midnight,” and “Sweet Dreams” that continue to make up our favorite country music playlist. 

We only wonder what she would’ve given us had this beautiful vocalist been allowed to live.

So, how did Patsy Cline die? Read about all the heartbreaking facts below.

When Did Patsy Cline Die?

Patsy Cline died on March 5, 1963, marking a tragic day for the country music community.

How Old Was Patsy Cline When She Died?

Patsy Cline was a young woman with many years yet to live. She was only 30 years old when she died.

Patsy Cline's net worth
Patsy Cline on a publicity portrait for Decca Recods in 1960. Image by Decca Records on Wikimedia Commons.

How Did Patsy Cline Die?

What caused Patsy Cline’s death? The country legend died in a plane crash.

The crash that claimed Patsy Cline’s life was ultimately blamed on the pilot’s inexperience.

The plane, owned by her manager Randy Hughes, departed at 2 p.m. on March 5 after playing a benefit concert in Kansas City, Missouri. Hughes served as the pilot of the plane. 

The flight was smooth until he refueled the aircraft in Dyersburg, Tennessee.

Despite warnings not to fly out due to inclement weather conditions, Hughes decided they would finish the flight, departing Dyersburg at 6 p.m. 

The plane crashed just 29 minutes later near Camden, Tennessee. The wreckage was later found the following day, March 6.

Related: Musicians Who Died in Plane Crashes: The Musicians the World Lost Too Soon

Patsy Cline’s Last Words

Ironically, the country star was supposed to fly out from Kansas City on March 4 initially, but it was also delayed due to weather conditions. 

When that happened, Dottie West offered that Cline take the 16-hour drive back to Nashville with her and her husband. Cline declined, saying, “Don’t worry about me, Hoss. When it’s my time to go, it’s my time to go.”

Considering the time difference between this remark and her death, we know these weren’t the exact last words she spoke, but we still can’t get a chill down our spine knowing how the rest of the story ended up.

Cline reportedly embraced the idea of death, according to her friends June Carter Cash and Loretta Lynn. 

In the 1993 Remembering Patsy documentary, they both commented on this quirk of Patsy.

In a letter to a friend, Cline once wrote: “It’s wonderful – but what do I do for ’63? It’s getting so even Cline can’t follow Cline.”

In another remark to fellow singer Ray Walker, she joked about how she has walked the fine line between life and death for years, noting two accidents before her death. 

She said, “The third one will either be a charm, or it’ll kill me.”

Who All Died in the Plane Crash that Patsy Cline Died In?

Along with Cline, other country stars on the plane were killed, including Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins. The pilot, Randy Hughes, died, too.

Did Patsy Cline’s husband die in the plane crash with her? No. Charles Dick was not on the plane.

patsy cline 1982
Country Pop singer Patsy Cline performed at the The Mint Las Vegas in Downtown Las Vegas during November and December 1962. Image by Shane Collins Wiki on Wikimedia Commons.

What Items Were Recovered from Patsy Cline’s Plane Crash?

Several personal items of the “Faded Love” singer were found at the crash site.

Among them was a Confederate flag cigarette lighter, three pairs of gold lamé slippers, a studded belt, and her wristwatch, which had stopped at 6:20 p.m.

The items were later donated to the Country Music Hall of Fame.  

Who Raised Patsy Cline’s Daughters?

Patsy Cline stipulated in her will that her two children, Julie (4) and Randy (2), would be raised by her mother, Hilda Hensley, in the event of her unlikely death.

Hensley raised the children in Winchester, Virginia, until 1965, when their father, Cline’s second husband, Charlie, remarried, and the children moved back to Nashville to live with him.  

How Rich was Patsy Cline When She Died?

At the time of her death, Patsy Cline was worth an estimated $10 million. 

It’s no surprise seeing as she was one of the most successful and influential artists of the 20th century.

Who Were Patsy Cline’s Closest Friends?

Patsy Cline had many famous friendships, from June Carter Cash to Dottie West to Willie Nelson, but one friendship, in particular, stood out as the greatest of them all.

Were Patsy and Loretta really friends? Yes. The two formed an extremely close bond during their short-lived friendship, which was cut short by Cline’s untimely death.

In April 2020, Lynn even published a book about their friendship called Me & Patsy Kickin’ Up Dust: My Friendship with Patsy Cline

A description of the book reads: “Loretta Lynn and the late Patsy Cline are legends—country icons and sisters of the heart. For the first time ever, Loretta tells their story: a celebration of their music and their relationship up until Patsy’s tragic and untimely death.”

How true is Patsy and Loretta? As true as friendship can get. 


What Song Did Loretta Write for Patsy?

Loretta Lynn didn’t hesitate to make sure her friend was remembered. In 1977, the “Coal Miner’s Daughter” singer recorded a tribute LP called I Remember Patsy. The LP included nine of the biggest hits released by Cline.

When Lynn covered “She’s Got You,” it became one of the top country singles that February and was why Cline’s music was revitalized for a whole new generation of fans, both in pop and country.

How Old Was Loretta Lynn When Patsy Cline Died?

Just like Patsy Cline was at the time of her death, Loretta Lynn was also 30 when she tragically lost her dear friend.

The two were only five months apart in age.

Did Loretta Lynn Name Her Daughter After Patsy Cline?

Loretta Lynn and her husband, Oliver, had six children together.

Their twin daughters, Peggy Jean and Patsy Eileen, born in August 1964, were named after Lynn’s sister, Peggy Sue Wright and Patsy Cline, respectively.

Did Dolly Parton Know Patsy Cline?

While Dolly Parton and Patsy Cline never got the chance to meet, the “Jolene” singer recalled in interviews when she heard the “Crazy” singer perform at the Grand Ole Opry in 1951, following her prior car crash, which left her severely injured.

In an interview with The Tennessean, Parton said:

I remember seeing Patsy Cline. I was young, and it was after she had had a car wreck and she’d gotten scarred up. And I remember as a child thinking there was this really big deep scar between her eyebrows. 

I remember seeing her before she had that, and I remember thinking about how awful that was that she got her pretty face scarred up like that. It didn’t hurt her singing any. 

But I just felt sorry and sad just thinking about her nearly getting killed in a wreck and how she wound up dying anyway. 

I just remember looking at her and seeing that, and then her walking to the microphone and her starting to sing, and then nothing else registered besides her God-given voice.”

Related: Dolly Parton Net Worth, Height, Career and More

Who Was Bigger, Patsy Cline, or Loretta Lynn?

When they were both alive, Patsy Cline’s star shone brighter than Loretta Lynn’s at the time with her landmark hits such as “Crazy” and “Walkin’ After Midnight,” whereas Lynn was only a few years into her career.

Even though Lynn’s career was exceedingly more prolonged, we don’t think it’s fair to say who is the bigger of the two now.

Both women have been highly instrumental in country music, especially in blazing the trail for today’s female artists, and we love them both with all our hearts.

Patsy Cline Funeral

At the bequest of Patsy Cline, as stated in her will, upon recovery, her body was returned to her hometown of Winchester, Virginia, where her memorial service was held. 

Thousands of mourners showed up to pay their last respects to the beloved star.

It’s been reported that those who showed up were crammed against the small tent above her gold casket and the gravesite because they wanted to take as many flowers as they could as keepsakes.

patsy cline plaque
Patsy Cline’s Hall of fame plaque. Image by Arian Ravan on Wikimedia Commons.

Where is Patsy Cline Buried?

Patsy Cline was buried at Shenandoah Memorial Park in Winchester, Virginia.

The bronze plaque that marks her grave reads: “Virginia H. Dick’ Patsy Cline'” and the quote “Death Cannot Kill What Never Dies: Love.”

There is also a memorial plaque at the exact site of the plane crash off Mt. Carmel Road in Camden, Tennessee.

Patsy Cline Remembered

Since the 1980s, Patsy Cline’s legacy has continually been memorialized in film and television.

Along with the 1985 biopic film Sweet Dreams, which starred actress Jessica Lange as Cline and Ed Harris as Charlie Dick, she has also been a pivotal character in the 1980 biopic film Coal Miner’s Daughter about her friend, Loretta Lynn.

In that movie, actress Beverly D’Angelo portrayed Cline and even did the original singing of Cline’s greatest hits for the film. 

Just as Lynn always did for her dear friend, this project revamped Cline’s popularity and shined a new light on her music for fans everywhere.

In 1988, the theater production Always…Patsy Cline also premiered. It was created by Ted Swindley and focused on the friendship between Cline and Louise Seger, a Texas resident. 

Cline and Seger met when she was performing at the Esquire Ballroom in Houston, Texas, and the two struck up a friendship through letters the two exchanged.

Related: 16 Best Movies About Music

What Does Patsy Cline’s Daughter Do for a Living?

Even though she was only four years old when she lost her mother, Julie (Cline) Fudge understands the legacy her mother left behind.

She remains very involved in preserving her late mother’s memory, particularly in the film depictions of her life.

Most recently, she was a producer of the 2019 Lifetime biopic Patsy and Loretta.

Patsy Cline’s Legacy

Highly regarded as one of the greatest vocalists of all time both in the world of country and pop music, Patsy Cline has influenced many women in country music, including Reba McEntire, LeAnn Rimes, Linda Ronstadt, and Kacey Musgraves.

Related: Kacey Musgraves’ Net Worth: Following the Popular Country Singer’s Arrow Straight to the Top

Dottie West once said of Cline’s influence on her career: “I think I was most influenced by Patsy Cline [because] she said things for people. There was so much feeling in there. In fact, she told me, ‘Hoss, if you can’t do it with feeling, don’t!'”

She also received many posthumous accolades, including induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and a Hollywood Walk of Fame star.

In 2017, the Patsy Cline Museum opened in Nashville at 119 3rd Ave. S. The museum features some of Cline’s stage costumes, record albums, and original scrapbook.

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Written by Erik Ritland

Erik Ritland is a songwriter, musician, journalist, and podcaster based in Nashville, Tennessee. He’s released over a dozen albums since 2002, most recently Old Dog Almost Gone (2021), the first-ever multimedia album, and his latest collection of all original material, A Scientific Search (2020). During his 15+ years as a music journalist, Erik has written hundreds of articles for Music in Minnesota, Something Else Reviews, his own blog Rambling On, and more. In addition to continuing his music career, Erik currently runs The Cosmic American, a music journalism website, and is the editor of Music in Minnesota.


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