Patsy Cline was born Virginia Patterson Hensley on September 8, 1932, in Winchester, Virginia. She was an American country music singer. Her father Samuel was a blacksmith. Her mother Hilda was only 16 years of age when she married Cline’s father, who was more than 25 years older than his bride. The couple had three children together before splitting up.
When she was sixteen, Cline dropped out of school to go to work. Her family desperately needed the money. She worked a number of places, including a poultry plant and a local soda shop. In her free time, Cline started her singing career.
Her first performance on radio in 1947 was so well received that she was asked back. This led to performances at local nightclubs, wearing fringed Western stage outfits that her mother made from Patsy’s designs.
Her first contract allowed her to record compositions only by Four Star writers, which Cline found limiting. Later, she expressed regret over signing with the label, but thinking that nobody else would have her, she took the deal.
Her first record for Four Star was “A Church, A Courtroom & Then Good-Bye”, which attracted little attention, although it led to appearances on the Grand Ole Opry.
In the early years Patsy was very interested in dancing, and wanted to become a dancer. Her idol was Shirley Temple. Patsy was entered in a children’s dance competition by her mother, and surprisingly she won first prize. But after that, Patsy suddenly lost interest in dancing, and was completely into music instead.
First it was playing the piano, which she did by ear, and later it was singing. On June 14, 1961, Patsy and her brother Sam were involved in a head-on car collision in front of Madison High School in Nashville.
The impact sent Patsy through the windshield and nearly killed her, but due to some miracle she survived also this crisis. Cline suffered a serious cut across her forehead (which she later covered with wigs and makeup), as well as a broken wrist, dislocated hip and injured ribs that affected her ability to hit the notes on initial recordings of what would become one of her biggest hits, “Crazy.”
Cline for the most part recovered from that accident, quickly returning to the studio and stage, and became one of the highest-paid and most respected female musicians of her time, enjoying multiple crossover successes on the country and pop charts and rubbing elbows with movers and shakers of her time including Elvis Presley, whom she referred to as “Big Hoss.”
In March 1963, Patsy travelled from Nashville to Kansas City, where on March 5, 1963; she appeared at a benefit concert for the family of disc jockey Jack McCall, who had been killed in a traffic accident earlier that year.
Immediately after her performance, she boarded a small plane back to Nashville along with country-western performers Cowboy Copas, Hawkshaw Hawkins and pilot Randy Hughes. She died on March 5, 1963, in a plane crash in Camden, Tennessee.
After her death, the song “Sweet Dreams” was released and became a hit. Considered one of country music’s greatest vocalists, she was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1973.