Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images Nine days after the deadly tornado that touched…
- Posted on Aug 6th 2010 5:00PM by James Sullivan
Just before boarding the plane, Cline, who had become a crossover success with four US Top 20 pop songs, including the enduring classics 'I Fall to Pieces' and 'Crazy,' declined an offer of a car ride from fellow singer Dottie West. "When it's my time to go, it's my time," she reportedly said.
"The Cline," as she called herself, had apparently been anticipating her own demise for some time. Less than two years before the plane crash that also took the lives of Hawkshaw Hawkins, Cowboy Copas and Copas' son-in-law, pilot Randy Hughes (who was also Cline's manager, and supposed lover), Cline was involved in a car crash that nearly took her life. It was the second bad auto accident she had suffered.
This time, with her brother behind the wheel, their car was hit head-on by another driver. Cline slammed into the windshield so hard she had shards of glass embedded in her scalp. Her friend West began removing them when she arrived on the scene. Rushed to the hospital, Cline insisted that the other driver, gravely injured, be treated first.
For the rest of her short life, Cline wore wigs and strategically placed headbands to cover the unsightly scars on her forehead. Though she had achieved stardom and survived two bad wrecks, she remained convinced she wasn't long for this world. "Honey, I've had two bad ones," she once told a collaborator. "The third one will either be a charm or it'll kill me."
Cline's close friend West became a country star in her own right after overcoming serious adversity. As a teenager, she testified against her own father after enduring years of physical and sexual abuse. Moving to Nashville, she and her husband befriended a circle of struggling songwriters including a young Willie Nelson, Roger Miller and Hank Cochran -- who would go on to help write two of Cline's biggest hits, 'I Fall to Pieces' and 'She's Got You.'
After a notable career that included a big hit originally written as a Coca-Cola ad ('Country Sunshine') and a series of popular duets with Kenny Rogers, West filed for bankruptcy protection in 1990. She began making plans for a comeback album to feature Rogers, Miller and Tammy Wynette, but the album was never finished.
En route to a Grand Ole Opry appearance, her car broke down, and West accepted a ride from an 81-year-old neighbor. The car flipped when the speeding driver failed to negotiate an off-ramp. Though West thought she was fine, doctors soon discovered significant internal bleeding. Despite several surgeries, Dottie West died on September 4, 1991.
Just like her friend Patsy Cline, West had insisted that the other victim be treated first.