Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Patsy Cline

I wanted to take a moment and remember the late Grand Ole Opry star, Patsy Cline. I know that just about everyone knows the Patsy Cline story, so I will just cover her briefly. She was born Virginia Patterson Hensley on September 8, 1932 in Winchester, Virginia. She started singing in her youth, eventually dropping out of high school to pursue her career.

In 1953, she married Gerald Cline, from which she would receive the last name that the world would know her as. That marriage did not work as she felt that her husband was not supporting her dream of making in the music business.

In 1954, Jimmy Dean became familiar with her from her appearances in the Virginia and Maryland area. That year, she became a regular on the "Town and Country" radio show, out of Washington, that also featured Dean. In 1955, she was signed to Four Star Records, and her career started moving forward. During the time at Four Star Records, she would record over 50 songs and this association would lead to several appearances on the Opry.

On January 21, 1957, she made national television appearance on "Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts." Instead of singing the song that she had picked out, the producers of the show asked her to sing the recently recorded, "Walkin' After Midnight." She won the competition that night and was invited to return. Also, the song was so well received that it was released as a national single. The song would eventually reach #2 on the country charts and #12 on the pop chart, which would make Patsy one of the first country stars to have a country and a pop hit.

In 1957, she met future husband Charlie Dick, and in 1958, they moved to Nashville. In 1960, after her record contract expired, she signed with Decca Records and started working with famed producer Owen Bradley. Her career really started taking off and through the work of Owen, the richness of Patsy's voice would shine, along with the strong musical arrangements of the numbers.

On January 9, 1960, she became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Prior to her joining, she had been making regular appearances at the Opry, and her husband pushed her to join the cast. In fact, the Opry did not ask Patsy to join, Patsy asked them. Specifically, she asked Opry manager Ott Devine what someone had to do to join the Opry. Ott reportedly replied that if that is what she wanted, she could now consider herself a member.

Patsy became one of the Opry's more biggest stars and was also one who pushed for more women to get into the music business. She befriended and helped new stars such as Loretta Lynn, Dottie West and Jan Howard. She was also friends with many Nashville writers and was known to enjoy a "drink with the boys, now and then." And the boys included stars such as Roger Miller, Hank Cochran, Faron Young, Ferlin Husky and Harlan Howard. The music industry was dominated by males and Patsy's personality fit right in.

Patsy Cline, along with Randy Hughes, Hawkshaw Hawkins and Cowboy Copas would pass away in a fatal plane crash on March 5, 1963. She was only 30 years old. They were returning from a benefit show to Nashville and the plane went down in bad weather.

After her death, the hits continued. In 1973, she was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame, along with Chet Atkins.

Like I said, the Patsy Cline story is well known and I just presented a brief sketch of it. For someone who had such a short career in Nashville, she really was a huge star. Her influence is still felt today and you cannot visit the Opry or the Hall of Fame without her being mentioned and talked about.

I present all of this today because on February 23, 1963, 48 years ago Wednesday, Patsy made her last appearance on the Opry. In honor of Patsy, I wanted to post the line up from February 23, 1963. Through some research, I was able to come up with the song list for most of the performers.

7:30: Kelloggs
Faron Young(host): "Yellow Bandana"
Willis Brothers: "San Antonio Rose"
Marion Worth: "Shake Me I Rattle"
Harold Morrison: "Beaver Creek"
Faron Young: "How Much I Must Have Loved You"
Del Wood: "12th Street Rag"
Merle Kilgore: "I Am"
Willis Brothers: "Big Daddy"
Faron Young: "Hello Walls"

8:00: Martha White
Ray Price(host): "Heartaches By The Numbers"
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: "Doin' My Time"
Hawkshaw Hawkins: "Silver Thread And Silver Needles"
Patsy Cline: "Leavin' On Your Mind"
Ray Price: "Walk Me To The Door"
Crook Brothers: "Love Somebody"
Billy Walker: "Charlie's Shoes"
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: "Satisfied"
Ray Price: "Crazy Arms"

8:30: Stephens
George Morgan(host): "Mississippi"
Cowboy Copas: "Alabam"
Lefty Frizzell
Archie Campbell: Comedy
George Morgan: "Almost"
Curly Fox
Melba Montgomery
Cowboy Copas: "Don't Shake Hands With The Devil"
George Morgan: "Rainbow In My Heart"

9:00: Jefferson Island Salt
Roy Acuff(host): "New River Train"
June Sterns: "Call Me Up"
Bill Monroe: "How Will I Explain About You"
Minnie Pearl: Comedy
Roy Acuff: "Sweeter Than The Flowers"
Brother Oswald: "Southern Moon"
Bill Monroe: "Were You There"
Fruit Jar Drinkers: "Soldiers Joy"
Roy Acuff: "Stay A Little Longer"
Howdy Forrester & Jimmy Riddle: "Cowbell Polka"

9:30 Pet Milk
Hank Snow(host): "I've Been Everywhere"
Glaser Brothers: "Lovers Farewell"
Sonny James
Cousin Jody: "Lady Cop"
Hank Snow: "Beggar To A King"
Margie Bowes: "Think It Over"
Sonny James
Glaser Brothers: "I Wish I Had Never Seen Sunshine"
Hank Snow: "These Hands"

Faron Young(host): "Safely In Love"
Marion Worth: "Tennessee Teardrops"
Curley Fox
Faron Young: "Alone With You"

10:15: Luzianne
Hawkshaw Hawkins(host): "Darkness In The Face Of The Earth"
George Morgan: "Allegheny Rose"
Del Wood: "Blue Eagle"
Hawshaw Hawkins: "Twenty Miles From Shore"

10:30: Harvey's
Ray Price(host)
Cowboy Copas: "Filipino Baby"
Patsy Cline: "Bill Bailey"
Ray Price

10:45: Sustaining
Roy Acuff(host): "I Don't Know Why"
Willis Brothers: "Footprints In The Snow"
Brother Oswald: "Mountain Dew"
Crook Brothers: "Solders Joy"
Ray Price: "So Many Times"

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow(host): "Big Wheel"
Bill Monroe: "A Good Woman's Love"
Billy Walker: "Thank You For Calling"
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: "There's A Higher Power"
Hank Snow: "Yellow Roses"
Fruit Jar Drinkers: "Pile'em Cabbage Down"
Glaser Brothers: "Odds & Ends"
Sam & Kirk McGee: "Freight Train Blues"
Bill Monroe: "Big Sandy Breakdown"
Hank Snow: "Wreck Of The Old 97"

11:30: SSS Tonic
Marty Robbins: "Ruby Ann"
Margie Bowes: "Within Your Crowd"
Sonny James
Cousin Jody: "Mockingbird"
Marty Robbins: "Devil Woman"
Don Winters: "Too Many Times"
Margie Bowes: "I Really Don't Want To Know"
Marty Robbins: "Don't Worry"

Hope you enjoy this look back!!


  1. What a wonderful commentary as well as a great lineup. I just had to mention a couple of things.

    One, as great as "Sweet Dreams" was, I loved the reaction to the scene where Charlie whacks Patsy. Both Charlie Dick and Loretta Lynn said the same thing: if he had done that, she would have killed him.

    Two, I find it interesting that, as big as Patsy was, she was doing only one song in the segments on which she appeared. But so did Sonny James and Billy Walker, both newer members who were big at the time. And Lefty Frizzell as a guest doing one song!

  2. I always enjoy the "old" lineups that you post. For me, it's a new insight into the format of the show in the years before I started paying attention to it. 12 peformers who would eventually be in the Hall of Fame and the rest, for the most part, have become legends in Opry lore.

    Interesting to see Don Winters in the lineup. He worked with Marty for years. The band called him "The Ox". Apparently, he shaved his head one time before a tour and everyone thought he resembled an ox and the nickname stuck.

    I was also struck by how many comics were part of the show back then. Harold Morrison, Cousin Jody, Archie Campbell, Minnie Pearl, Oswald and Curly Fox (who really wasn't a comedian...but he was a funny, funny man). I miss that aspect of the Opry today.

  3. I was just wondering what you think a 1961 WSM Grand Ole Opry program that is autographed by Patsy, Cowboy and Hawkshaw, (along with about 20 other performers of the time) would be worth? I'd figure a good penny just because for one, I know Patsy and Cowboy are on the top 10 lists, and since they all 3 died in the same crash, I'd imagine something like that would be pretty rare..
    any ideas?

  4. I have no idea at all what something like that would be worth, but what a treasure to have. Other than the PBS show, "antiques roadshow", I don't even know where you could get an opinion on something like that.

    Maybe contact the Hall of Fame, as they might have an appraiser who could help you. I know that Marty Stuart has a huge collection of country music historical items, and maybe somehow, you could contact him and see if there is any interest there. Maybe through his website.

    Good luck!!!!!!

  5. When you look at the older line-ups, the one thing that I do notice is how the artists generally did not do their 2 numbers in a row, but would sing a number on the first part of the segment and then come back later and do another number. Now, if an artist does 2 or 3 songs, they do them all in a row.

    I do know that when Bob Whittaker was the Opry's general manager, he did try to change it back to an artist doing one song the first part of the segment and then coming back to do a 2nd song, and it just did not go over very well. I had heard that many of the artists wanted to do their 2 songs in a row and not hang around the stage area waiting to go back on. That seemed to be the case with many of the Opry's bigger name artists.

  6. I remember a TV portion in which Whittaker had the Melvin Sloan Dancers open and close it, with Billy Walker hosting, and while I appreciated the effort, it was a mess. The dancers had to run in and out of there, and Earl White and Charlie Collins had to do sprints.