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Patsy Cline Biography

Home > Music > C > Cline, Patsy > Biography

Birth Name: Virginia Patterson Hensley
Born: 1932/09/08
Birth Place: Winchester, Virginia
Died: 1963/03/05
Years Active: 1955-1963
Genres: Country, Traditional Pop, Rockabilly, Honky Tonk, Standards, Nashville Sound

Patsy Cline (September 8, 1932 – March 5, 1963), born Virginia Patterson Hensley, was an American country music singer who enjoyed pop music crossover success during the era of the Nashville sound in the early 1960s. Cline was best known for her rich tone and emotionally expressive bold contralto voice. Since her death in 1963 at age 30 in a private airplane crash at the height of her career, she has been considered one of the most influential, successful, and acclaimed female vocalists of the 20th century.

After performing in a band in 1954, Cline was signed by Bill McCall to Four Star Records, based in Pasadena, California. She made her first recording session for the label in June 1955, releasing her debut single, "A Church, a Courtroom, and Goodbye" in July. Cline issued seventeen singles to the country music recording charts between 1955 and 1960, however only one of them was a major hit. After releasing the singles, "Hidin' Out," "I Love You Honey," and "I've Loved and Lost Again," her first single issued in 1957 entitled "Walkin' After Midnight" peaked at #2 on the Billboard Magazine Hot Country Songs list and #12 on the Top Pop Songs chart. The song's success spawned Cline's self-titled debut album that was released in August 1957. Cline's additional singles released between 1958 and 1960, ranged in variations between country, Gospel, and Rockabilly. These songs included such releases as, "Three Cigarettes (In an Ashtray)," "Come on In (And Make Yourself at Home)," "Dear God," and "Crazy Dreams."

In late 1960, Cline signed with Four Star's distributor, Decca. Working with producer, Owen Bradley, Cline's musical style changed from Honky Tonk to the Pop-influenced Nashville Sound. Her first Decca was release was 1961's "I Fall to Pieces," which was recorded upon her first session for the label. The single became her first number one single on the Billboard Country Chart, while also reaching #12 on the Pop chart, and #6 on the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks list.

Her second self-titled extended play was issued in August 1960 containing the hit, however, due to a major car accident, Cline could not promote the song. Its follow-up, "Crazy," was released in October and became another crossover hit, reaching #2 on the Billboard Country and Adult Contemporary chart, and #9 on the Pop chart.

Cline's second studio album was then issued in November 1961 entitled, “Patsy Cline Showcase” and contained both hits. In its re-release in 1963, the album peaked at #73 on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart.

Cline's third Decca single, "She's Got You" was released in January 1962, and became her fourth major hit, reaching #1 on Billboard's Country Chart, #14 on the Billboard Pop Chart, and #3 on its Adult Contemporary chart. Because an album was not yet released, the extended play also titled, “She's Got You” was released in April. She had two other major country hits that year: "When I Get Thru' With You" (#10) and "So Wrong" (#14).

Her third and final official studio album named, “Sentimentally Yours” was released in August and contained "She's Got You," as well as, "Heartaches," which reached #31 in the United Kingdom. Many of the singles' B-sides charted on the Country and Pop chart that year, including the "She's Got You” flip side, "Strange" and the "When I Get Thru' With You” flip side, "Imagine That." Cline released her final single during her lifetime in January 1963 entitled, "Leavin' On Your Mind." The song became a Top 10 hit on the Billboard Country Chart, while also reaching #83 on the Pop chart.

Patsy Cline died March 5, 1963 in a plane crash in Camden, Tennessee. Ten years after her death, in 1973 she became the first female solo artist inducted to the Country Music Hall of Fame.