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How a car crash nearly ended Patsy Cline’s career


At 29 years old, with a successful career and several hits climbing the charts, Patsy Cline was almost killed in a head-on car collision. Permanent scarring and chronic pain could’ve ended the young musician’s career, but Cline refused to let it slow her down. Six weeks after the accident, still on crutches, she appeared on the Grand Ol’ Opry’s stage to perform her biggest hit yet: Crazy.

Born Virginia Patterson Hensley in Winchester, Virginia, Patsy Cline (September 8, 1932-March 5, 1963) defined modern country music by using her singular talent and heart‐wrenching emotional depth to break down barriers of gender, class and genre. In her music and her life, she set a standard of authenticity towards which artists still strive. After years of hard work to overcome industry gender biases and her own personal hardships and professional missteps, she achieved success, only to have it punctured by uncanny premonitions and her untimely death at age 30. The new documentary Patsy Cline: American Masters premieres nationwide beginning March 4 on PBS (check local listings) during Women’s History Month as part of the 31st season of THIRTEEN’s American Masters series. 2017 marks the 85th anniversary of Cline’s birth.


But her ascent is abruptly cut short.

Patsy is in a car accident and spends a month in the hospital recovering. The car wreck for most anyone else would have been a career-ender. She could have died.

She had terrible scarring. She had chronic pain after that, and that would have been the point at which most people would've said, 'o.k., I've kinda - I've had enough.'

After the accident, she came into my office and she really looked a little rough because it had been a tough accident. She had a injury somewhere around her forehead. Steadfast, determined, and still on crutches, she appears on the Opry stage to reassure her fans. The good part was, she had a hit, and it was really going great. And she came and stuck her head in the door and said, 'I don't ever want to record again.' She said, 'I just want to enjoy this one for the rest of my life.' And that's what she told me - that she only did that song because I liked it.


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