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Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Dark Day in Country Music

Today in History: March 5, 1963

Lloyd Estel Copas
Image Source: en.wikipedia.org
Most people remember this day in history from news reports of a plane crash in Camden, TN that took the life of Patsy Cline. A soaring vocalist, Cline had already scored in the 1960s with hits I Fall To Pieces, Crazy and She's Got You. But, Patsy was not alone. Everybody on that plane was important to the music business. All of them were 'top dogs'!

When the plane went down on that fateful day, Lloyd "Cowboy" Copas was the biggest star on board. Copas was a veteran favorite and a deft guitarist who burst onto the country scene with four consecutive top 10 hits in the 1940s ending up on the cover of Billboard magazine.

Hawkshaw HawkinsImage Source: en.wikipedia.org
Also on board was Hawkshaw Hawkins, a rising, charismatic star on a roll, married to future Country Music Hall of Fame star Jean Shepard. Harold Franklin Hawkins, later known as Hawkshaw Hawkins, was an American country music singer popular from the 1950s into the early 60s known for his rich, smooth vocals and music drawn from blues, boogie and honky tonk. Hawkins had just released what would become his first and only No. 1 country hit, Lonesome 7-7203

When Hawkins left that morning, he bent over the empty baby crib awaiting the birth of his new son. His wife, Jean, was eight months pregnant. Harold Franklin Hawkins Jr. was born April 8, 1963, less than a month after the crash. 

Ramsey (Randy) Hughes
Ramsey (Randy) Hughes, Patsy Cline, Hawkshaw Hawkins, and Cowboy Copas were all in Hughes Piper Comanche, when it crashed just west of Camden, Tennessee. Randy Hughes, who piloted the plane, was Cline's manager, a talented musician/stage performer and the husband of Copas' daughter, Kathy. Hughes' plane made the excursion possible for Cline, Copas and Hawkins. Country music travel in those days usually involved back roads and hassles, and the Comanche was a way to sail far above those things.

Hughes' plane dove into the hard, cold winter woods near Camden, 85 miles west of Nashville. The plane's impact was like an egg hurled to the ground. No survivors. No chance.

Country singer Patsy Cline
was killed in a plane crash,
March 5, 1963.
(Photo: Courtesy photo)
While Patsy Cline has received top billing in the decades following the crash, it should not be forgotten that she was not alone. Patsy was a big fan of Copas and Hawk, and would want their memories and music to remain alive along with her own. 

That crash marked an unprecedented loss to the country music community. March of 1963 was a month of tragedy and devastation in Nashville. Days after the plane went down, on the same day of a Cline memorial, Jack Anglin of popular duo Johnnie & Jack died in a single-car accident on Due West Avenue in Madison. And later that month, former “Opry” star “Texas” Ruby Fox perished in a trailer fire.







And the music goes on beating to the rhythm of the changing times...