After giving birth to a daughter (Julia) in August 1958, Cline moved to Nashville and signed with manager Randy Hughes, who attempted to revive her stone-cold career by booking one-nighters across the country and helping her ride out her Four Star contract. Back to working $50 gigs, she was at the nadir of her career when the Grand Ole Opry belatedly made her a member on January 9, 1960. That summer she signed with Decca, and Bradley began to direct her towards becoming a leading exponent of the emergent Nashville Sound, beginning with her recording of the Harlan Howard-Hank Cochran tune “I Fall to Pieces.” Cline initially fought Bradley’s lush arrangements, which featured backings by the Jordanaires.
Cline gave birth to a son (Randy) in January 1961 and survived a near-fatal car accident in June as “Pieces” slowly started its climb up the charts, reaching #1 country in August and #12 pop eight months after its release. Cline maintained her chart momentum with the Top Ten hits “Crazy” and “She’s Got You” and with albums like Patsy Cline Showcase and Sentimentally Yours. Other highlights included appearances at Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, and Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. Cline joined “The Johnny Cash Show” as the touring group’s star female vocalist in January 1962, and over the next fourteen months she played about fifteen or twenty dates with Cash’s “family,” which then included Don Gibson, George Jones, Carl Perkins, June Carter, Barbara Mandrell, Gordon Terry, and Johnny Western.
Cline related premonitions of her death to close friends Loretta Lynn, Dottie West, and June Carter as early as September 1962. Her last public performance was a benefit in Kansas City, March 3, 1963. Returning home, she was killed in a plane crash that also took the lives of pilot Randy Hughes and fellow Opry stars Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins. Released posthumously, Cline’s singles “Leavin’ on Your Mind” and “Sweet Dreams” both charted Top Ten. Numerous new recordings have appeared since her death, and she has remained one of the MCA label’s most consistent sellers. The subject of both Sweet Dreams and the hit 1990s play Always . . . Patsy Cline, she was voted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1973. - Margaret Jones
- Adapted from the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum’s Encyclopedia of Country Music, published by Oxford University Press.