Re-Live Patsy Cline’s Final TV Performances

Cline’s life was tragically cut short in a plane crash just one week later.

By

Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

February 28, 2024

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Patsy Cline; Photo Courtesy YouTube

On February 28, 1963, country music trailblazer Patsy Cline made the final television appearance of her career on The Glenn Reeves Show. She died tragically in a plane crash just one week later.

While on the country music TV show, Cline gave her all to the delivery of two songs – “San Antonio Rose” and “I Fall To Pieces.”

Patsy Cline; Photo GAB Archive/Redferns
Patsy Cline; Photo GAB Archive/Redferns

“San Antonio Rose”

“San Antonio Rose” was penned by legendary western swing bandleader and fiddler Bob Wills, who also performed the song regularly with his band, the Texas Playboys. It was first recorded as a swing instrumental in 1938, and then lyrics were added to the tune two years later. For forty years, the chart-topping song remained the band’s theme song. 

Cline is among musical legends who have made this song their own, including Ray Price, Willie Nelson, Bing Crosby and more. Her recording of “San Antonio Rose” was released in November of 1961 with vocals from the American quartet, The Jordanaires. While bringing the song to life on The Glenn Reeves Show, she put her female spin on the heartfelt letter to one’s lost love. Her classic tone was elevated among the accompaniment of the band lending their skills to instruments such as the steel guitar, fiddle and drums. 

She sings, “It was there I found beside the Alamo/ Enchantment strange as the blue, up above/ A moonlit path that only he would know/ Still hears my broken song of love.”

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“I Fall To Pieces”

She also performed “I Fall To Pieces,” another track that Cline did not have a hand in writing. It was penned by Hank Cochran and Harlan Howard and turned down by the well-known singers Brenda Lee and Roy Drusky before Cline took it into the studio and made it a hit. With this performance, her vocals take on a more somber approach as she illustrates the true pain of heartbreak throughout the ballad. 

“I fall to pieces/ Each time I see you again/ I fall to pieces/ How can I be just your friend?/ You want me to act like we’ve never kissed/ You want me to forget (to forget)/ Pretend we’ve never met (never met)/ And I’ve tried and I’ve tried/ But I haven’t yet/ You walk by and I fall to pieces,” she sings. 

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On Aug. 7, 1961, “I Fall to Pieces,” reached No. 1 on the Billboard charts and held its top spot for two weeks. This feat marked the “Walkin’ After Midnight” singer’s first top-charting country record. She kept her chart momentum going with Top Ten hits “Crazy” and “She’s Got You.”

What Was The Tragic Death Of Patsy Cline?

Shortly after her memorable performances on The Glenn Reeves Show, Patsy Cline was flying home to Nashville from a benefit concert in Kansas City, Kansas when the plane she was on went down. According to Rolling Stone, the Winchester, VA native was originally scheduled to take a commercial flight back, however, it had been cancelled due to rainy weather. So instead, she chartered her own plane, with her manager Randy Hughes as the acting pilot. They were just 85 miles away from a Nashville airstrip when the plane crashed in the woods near Camden, Tennessee. Everyone on board was killed including Cline, Grand Ole Opry members Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins, and the pilot.

Patsy Cline; Photo Courtesy Patsy Cline, Facebook
Patsy Cline; Photo Courtesy Patsy Cline, Facebook

How Old Was Patsy Cline When She Died?

This tragic event took place on March 5, 1963. Patsy Cline, the first female artist elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame, was only 30 years old when she died. 

She left behind her husband, husband Charlie Dick, as well as their two children, Julie and Randy, who were just four and two when they lost their mother. Although Julie did not follow in her mother’s footsteps and become an artist, she has played a big part in ensuring Cline’s name will forever be a part of country music’s history.

The Country Icon’s Legacy Lives On

In April of 2017, Julie helped open the Patsy Cline Museum in Nashville, TN, which aims to celebrate the singer’s life by offering fans the chance to explore hundreds of never-before-seen artifacts, personal belongings, videos, and more. The museum is located at 119 3rd Ave S, just above the Johnny Cash Museum off of downtown Nashville’s Lower Broadway. 

Although Cline’s career was short-lived, she achieved plenty of success in that time, and even after she died, her music continued to impact the genre.  

She had several posthumous hits including her Greatest Hits album which was certified Diamond by the RIAA in 2005 for selling ten million copies. Following her death, she also received several awards and honors including the GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995 and a star on the coveted Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1999. Additionally, 1973, Cline made history as the first female solo artist in Country Music elected to The Country Music Hall of Fame.

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Then in 2019, fans got to see a whole new side to her journey when the biopic, Patsy & Loretta, aired on Lifetime that fall. This film told the true story of two country legends, Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn, and the beautiful friendship that formed as a result of both artists learning to navigate the country music industry as trailblazing women.

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Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.