Reba McEntire Performed a Patsy Cline Cover Before Her Band’s Fatal 1991 Plane Crash
On March 16, 1991, Reba McEntire and her entire team suffered a devastating loss when a plane crash killed seven members of her band as well as her tour manager. The country star and her band had just finished a March 15 private performance for IBM executives, and had planned to fly from San Diego, Calif., to Ft. Wayne, Ind., for their next scheduled performance.
That day, McEntire was recovering from a case of bronchitis, and she elected to spend the night in California to recover, along with her then-husband, Narvel Blackstock, and her stylist, Sandy Spika, while the rest of the crew headed to Ft. Wayne.
That twist of fate may have saved McEntire's life. At around 1:45 on the morning of March 16, members of her band and crew left in two aircrafts that took off from a southern San Diego airstrip. According to the LA Times, shortly after takeoff, the first of the two planes crashed into an Otay Mountain peak about 10 miles east of the airstrip, killing all its passengers.
In the aftermath of any devastating accident, there are close calls and spooky coincidences to look back at in hindsight, and the plane crash that killed McEntire's band members is no exception. For example, one of those killed in the crash was backup singer Paula Kay Evans, who'd been offered the job touring with McEntire over a young Faith Hill.
Even eerier, however, is a performance that the band delivered during their last show before the tragedy. No one was supposed to tape the private show, but McEntire's tour manager wound up confiscating an illicit recording of the performance that night, giving the tape to Blackstock before the group departed San Diego. Not only is it the last recording of McEntire ever performing with her band, but the footage also includes a performance of Patsy Cline's "Sweet Dreams."
McEntire often closed her sets with an a cappella cover of the song, and has cited Cline as an idol. Cline died in a plane crash in March of 1963, the same month that McEntire's band members lost their lives. After the 1991 crash, McEntire retired her version of "Sweet Dreams," explaining that it was too painful for her to relive the song in light of the tragedy.
To learn more about the fatal crash, as well as McEntire's response in the days and months that followed, press play above to watch this installment of The Secret History of Country Music, from The Boot's partner site, Taste of Country.
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