Mar. 6, 1963 - The shattered bodies of Patsy Cline, Hawkshaw Hawkins, and Cowboy Copas — all top country singers — were found today in the wreckage of a small plane which crashed near the Tennessee River. The “Grand Ole Opry” stars, along with their pilot and Miss Cline’s manager, Randy Hughes, 35, were killed last night when their plane hit a wooded hill 85 miles west of Nashville. They were returning to their Nashville homes from Kansas City, Kan., where they had given a benefit performance for the family of Cactus Jack Call, a radio disc jockey killed in a recent traffic accident. Their plane went down in turbulent weather that spawned several tornadoes over the southeastern section of the nation Tuesday night. A farmer and his son spotted the wreckage of the plane when dawn broke. “It came straight down and clipped one tree top before it hit the ground,” said John Latham, manager of WFWO, Camden, and one of the first persons to reach the scene. Several persons reported hearing a plane with a misfiring engine circling during the storm. The plane came down a quarter of a mile off a gravel road. Ground parties found the wreckage scattered over an area of 100 feet. Bill Walker, another Opry star who took part in the benefit, had planned to return to Nashville with his colleagues, but there wasn’t room aboard the small craft. He took a commercial flight instead. The plane stopped at Dryersburg to refuel, and pilot Hughes telephoned his wife in Nashville that he would “be home soon.” News of the crash was solemnly reported to Radio Station WSM, which presents the Grand Ole Opry. An announcer prefaced the news of the deaths with warning to his audience: “This is the saddest news I have ever had to give you.” Miss Cline, 29, was a native of Winchester, Va. She got her start on Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts television program in the mid-1950s and joined the Opry in 1960. Two of her biggest hits were “I Fall to Pieces” and “Walking After Midnight.” She was judged last year’s “outstanding female vocalist” by leading publications in the country and western music field. Copas, 49, was a native of Muskogee, Olka., and a singer on the Opry for 17 years. Hawkins, 43, was associated with 3 big money-making records: “Slow Poke,” “Soldier Joy,” and “Bad News Travels Fast.” He joined the Opry in 1955. His wife, Jean Shepard, also an Opry singer, announced this week that she was expecting their second child.
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