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Patsy Cline

American country music singer

Died when: 30 years 178 days (365 months)
Star Sign: Virgo

 

Patsy Cline Patsy Cline (born Virginia Patterson Hensley; September 8, 1932 – March 5, 1963) was an American singer. She is considered one of the most influential vocalists of the 20th century and was one of the first country music artists to successfully cross over into pop music. Cline had several major hits during her eight-year recording career, including two number-one hits on the Billboard Hot Country and Western Sides chart. Cline's first professional performances began at the local WINC radio station when she was fifteen. In the early 1950s, Cline began appearing in a local band led by performer Bill Peer. Various local appearances led to featured performances on Connie B. Gay's Town and Country television broadcasts. It also led to the signing of her first recording contract with the Four Star label in 1954. She had minor success with her earliest Four Star singles including "A Church, A Courtroom and Goodbye" (1955) and "I've Loved and Lost Again" (1956). In 1957 however, Cline made her first national television appearance on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts. After performing "Walkin' After Midnight", the single would become her first major hit on both the country and pop charts. Cline's further singles with Four Star Records were unsuccessful, although she continued performing and recording. After marrying in 1957 and giving birth in 1958, she moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to further her career. Working with new manager Randy Hughes, Cline would become a member of the Grand Ole Opry and then move to Decca Records in 1960. Under the direction of producer Owen Bradley, her musical sound shifted and she achieved consistent success. The 1961 single "I Fall to Pieces" would become her first to top the Billboard country chart. As the song became a hit, Cline was severely injured in an automobile accident, which caused her to spend a month in the hospital. After recovering, her next single release "Crazy" would also become a major hit. Between 1962 and 1963, Cline had hits with "She's Got You", "When I Get Through with You", "So Wrong" and "Leavin' on Your Mind". She also toured and headlined shows with more frequency. In March 1963, Cline appeared at a benefit show in Kansas City, Kansas. To return home, she boarded a plane along with country performers Cowboy Copas, Hawkshaw Hawkins and manager Randy Hughes. Upon hitting rough weather, the plane crashed outside of Camden, Tennessee, killing all those on board. Since her death, Cline has been cited as one of the most celebrated, respected and influential performers of the 20th century. Her music has influenced performers of various styles and genres. She has also been seen as a forerunner for women in country music, being among the first to sell records and headline concerts. In 1973, she became the first female performer to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. In the 1980s, Cline's posthumous successes continued in the mass media. She was portrayed twice in major motion pictures, including the 1985 biopic Sweet Dreams starring Jessica Lange. Several documentaries and stage shows were released during this time, including the 1988 musical Always...Patsy Cline. A 1991 box set of her recordings was issued that received critical acclaim. Her greatest hits album sold over 10 million copies in 2005. In 2011, Cline's childhood home was restored as a museum for visitors and fans to tour. ==Early life== '"I will always remember the country legend Patsy Cline"'Italic text Cline was born Virginia Patterson Hensley in Winchester Memorial Hospital, located in Winchester, Virginia. Cline's mother, Hilda, was only 16 years old at the time of her birth. Besides being called "Virginia" in her childhood, she was also referred to as "Ginny". She temporarily lived with her mother's family in Gore, Virginia before relocating many times throughout the state. In her childhood, the family relocated where Samuel Hensley, a blacksmith, could find employment, including Elkton, Staunton, and Norfolk. When the family had little money, she would find work. This included an Elkton poultry factory, where her job was to pluck and cut chickens. The family moved often before finally settling in Winchester, Virginia on South Kent Street. Cline would later report that her father sexually abused her. When confiding about the abuse to friend Loretta Lynn, Cline told her, "take this to your grave". Hilda Hensley would later report details of the abuse to producers of Cline's 1985 biopic Sweet Dreams. At age 13, Cline was hospitalized with a throat infection and rheumatic fever. Speaking of the incident in 1957 she said, "I developed a terrible throat infection and my heart even stopped beating. The doctor put me in an oxygen tent. You might say it was my return to the living after several days that launched me as a singer. The fever affected my throat and when I recovered I had this booming voice like Kate Smith's." It was during this time she developed an interest in singing. She started performing with her mother in the local Baptist choir. Mother and daughter also performed duets at church social events. She also taught herself how to play the piano. Cline's interest in performing continued to build. At age 14, she declared to her mother that she was going to audition for the local radio station. Her first radio performances began at WINC in the Winchester area. According to WINC's radio disc jockey Joltin' Jim McCoy, Cline appeared in the station's waiting room one day and asked to audition. McCoy was impressed by her audition performance, reportedly saying, "Well, if you've got nerve enough to stand before that mic and sing over the air live, I've got nerve enough to let you." While also performing on the radio, she also started appearing in talent contests and created a nightclub cabaret act similar to performer Helen Morgan. Cline's mother and father had marital conflicts during her childhood and by 1947, her father deserted the family. Author Ellis Nassour of the biography Honky Tonk Angel: An Intimate Story of Patsy Cline reported Cline had a "beautiful relationship" with her mother. In his interviews with Hilda Hensley, he quoted Cline's mother in saying they "were more like sisters" than parent and child. Upon entering the ninth grade, Cline enrolled at John Handley High School in Winchester, Virginia. However, the family had trouble sustaining an income after her father's desertion. Therefore, Cline dropped out of high school to help support the family. She began working at Gaunt's Drug Store in the Winchester area as a clerk and soda jerk.
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