Musicians Killed In Aircraft Crashes – Musicians travel a lot, so they are at a higher than normal risk of being involved in accidents. The list of country singers who died in plane crashes includes some of the biggest stars in country music history.
Bad weather and small planes are a deadly combination. Patsy Cline died in a plane crash that was immortalized in the 1985 film
Musicians Killed In Aircraft Crashes
, for which Jessica Lange was nominated for an Academy Award. Two other famous country singers died in the same accident, and it was in a small plane in bad weather. One of country music’s first international stars died at the controls of his private plane during a rainstorm, and another singing star also died due to poor visibility.
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One of the singers who died in a plane crash crashed his experimental plane because it ran out of fuel, and that’s why the main members of an influential group died in the crash. One of country’s most enduring superstars lost eight band members in a plane crash.
All but two on our list of country singers who died in plane crashes occurred at or while flying from shows, many of them during time constraints and at odd hours. There are often hours of travel along the way. Many of them have become the stuff of legends, with rumors and speculations springing up around them about their own lives.
Most recently, Montgomery Gentry singer Troy Gentry died in a helicopter crash on September 8, 2017, hours before a planned Montgomery Gentry concert in New Jersey. Visit the gallery below to learn more about the deaths of many country singers who died in plane crashes. Buddy Holly’s death is commemorated in Don McLean’s song “American Pie” as “the day the music died” (Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
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Singer Patsy Cline, who was killed in a Piper Comanche accident in 1963 (from the Fall 2022 issue
), was neither the first nor the last famous musician to die in a plane crash. Here are some important matters.
The legendary swing-era bandleader disappeared over the English Channel on December 15, 1944, while a passenger on the single-engine UC-64-A Norseman. The plane took off from Twinwood Airfield, about 50 miles north of London, en route to Paris, where Mayor Miller, 40, was to arrange to bring his military band to the continent to entertain American troops. He never came. Theories abound as to what happened. One says that a British bomber returning home after bad weather mistook his target and dropped his bomb load and accidentally let the Norsemen out of the air; Another speculated that the Norseman’s wing had iced over, causing the aircraft to plunge into the canal. Miller, pilot John Morgan and another passenger, Colonel Norman Bessell, were never seen again.
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Immortalized by Don McLean’s song “American Pie” as “The Day the Music Died”, the Beechcraft Bonanza crash on February 3, 1959 claimed the lives of 22-year-old Buddy Holly (“Peggy Sue”), Richie Valens. . (17) and JP Richardson (“The Big Bopper,” who was 28). Shortly after taking off from an airport in Clear Lake, Iowa, on a flight to Fargo, North Dakota, for a performance in nearby Moorhead, Minnesota, the single-engine plane encountered bad weather and crashed into a cornfield. crashed All on board, including 21-year-old pilot Roger Peterson, died. Valens, whose big hit was “La Bamba,” got a seat on the plane after winning a coin flip with guitarist Tommy Allsup. Waylon Jennings, then a member of Holly’s band, gave up his seat to Richardson, who was ill. The investigation blamed pilot Peterson, who was unprepared for the weather encountered during the flight.
On March 5, 1963, country singer Patsy Cline, 30, and three others died in a Piper Comanche crash. Cline was returning to her home in Nashville, Tennessee after performing in Kansas City, Kansas. The pilot was his manager, Ramsay “Randy” Doris Hughes. Bad weather made the journey difficult and forced several stops along the way. After taking off from Dyersburg, Tennessee in rain, clouds and dark skies, the plane crashed into the ground in a rural area about 75 miles west of Nashville. Klein, Hughes and musicians Harold Franklin “Hankshaw” Hawkins and Lodi Estelle “Cowboy” Kopas were all killed. Crash investigators blame pilot error.
Country singer Jim Reeves, 40, died in an accident similar to Cline’s, except in this case Reeves was flying his own plane. The singer known for hits like “Four Walls” left Batesville, Arkansas on July 31, 1964 for a flight to Nashville. Reeves was at the controls of his single-engine Beechcraft 35-B33 Debonaire. His only passenger was his manager, Dean Manuel. Reeves drove into a violent rainstorm over Brentwood, Tennessee, and apparently became discouraged. The plane hit the ground at high speed. The search took 42 hours to locate the wreckage, which included country stars Marty Robbins and Ernest Tubb.
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Soul singer Otis Redding, 26, died in a chartered twin-engine Beechcraft 18 crash on December 10, 1967. Redding and members of his band, the Bar-Kays, left Cleveland’s airport for a flight to Madison. , Wisconsin, with pilot Richard Fraser. The weather was bad with cold rain and fog. On approach to Madison the plane crashed into Lake Monona. The exact cause of the crash has not been determined, but the batch craft may have had engine problems. Of the seven passengers, only 20-year-old Ben Cowley, one of the musicians, survived. (The opening band for Redding that night in Madison was a local outfit called the Grim Reapers, featuring future Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen.) Four months after Redding’s death, his single “(Sitting on) the Pier by the Bay” arrived. top of the chart It was his first #1 record.
Singer/songwriter Jim Croce, 30, was a rising star on September 20, 1973, when he performed his final concert at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. He had chart success with “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” and other songs and was working on a third album. Tired of the road, he was eager to get to the next and final stop on the tour, Sherman, Texas. The pilot of his chartered Beechcraft E18, Robert N. There was Elliot, who had to walk most of the way to the airport because he couldn’t get a taxi. Shortly after takeoff from Natchitoches Regional Airport, the plane crashed into a pecan tree. Guitarist Maury Muhelison, comedian George Stevens, road manager Dennis Rust and Krause’s agent Kenneth D. All six died, including Cortez. An investigation blamed pilot error.
On October 20, 1977, members of the country rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd (“Sweet Home Alabama,” “Free Bird”) were aboard a chartered flight of a twin-engine Convair CV-240. The band’s fifth album,
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, was released just three days ago. The flight was en route from Greenville, South Carolina to Baton Rouge, Louisiana when it crashed near Gillesburg, Mississippi. An investigation into the accident revealed that the plane ran out of fuel because the pilots failed to properly check their fuel status. Lead singer Ronnie Van Zant (29), guitarist Steve Gaines (28) and backup singer Casey Gaines (29) died, as did an assistant road manager and the pilot and copilot. 20 other people in the convoy survived. MCA releases records later
(Street Survivors was released three days before three members of Lynyrd Skynyrd died in a plane crash. The record company reissued the album with a different cover.)
On March 19, 1982, Randy Rhodes, guitarist for rocker Ozzy Osbourne, died in the Beechcraft Bonanza crash in Leesburg, Florida. Rhodes, 25, was a passenger on the plane, which was flown by Andrew Aycock, who drives a bus for the gang. The plane belonged to country singer Jerry Calhoun. The accident occurred when Aycock, whose pilot’s license had expired, attempted to crash Osborne’s tour bus, knocking a wing off the bus and crashing into Calhoun’s home. All three people on board the plane, including the gang leader, were killed. According to the National Transportation Safety Board report, “The pilot, who was the driver of a rock group, took an aircraft from the hangar without the permission of the group members to ride at pleasure.”
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Singer Ricky Nelson, 45, became famous as the offspring of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson and performed on his parents’ show on radio and television. Interested in music, Nelson began a musical career, including “Hello Mary Lou” and “Garden Party”. He died on December 31, 1985, when his plane, a 1944 Douglas DC-3 that Nelson had purchased for use as a touring plane, attempted an emergency landing due to an internal fire. The DC-3 had flown from Guntersville, Alabama to Dallas and crashed outside De Kalb, Texas. The cause of the fire is believed to be a faulty heater. Pilot and copilot
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