On This Day: Patsy Cline Battles for Her Life After a Car Accident While “I Fall To Pieces” Hits No. 1

June 14, 1961 started out like any normal day for country star Patsy Cline. Unfortunately, tragedy struck when Cline and her brother, Sam Hensley Jr., were involved in a terrible near-fatal car accident. The whole ordeal would keep Cline in the hospital for a month after undergoing a surgery that doctors didn’t expect her to survive. And during her hospital stay, her hit song “I Fall To Pieces” would hit no. 1 on multiple Billboard charts. It was the very first no. 1 country hit of her career.

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Cline’s career was on the rise in 1961, as the song “Wakin’ After Midnight” in 1957 had charted quite well over a few years. Following a bit of a dry spell, Cline finally scored her first major hit with “I Fall To Pieces” in 1961, which launched the ultra-successful career that she is still admired for today.

The Accident That Almost Took Patsy Cline Too Soon

Cline didn’t really get to enjoy the sudden success. While driving in Nashville on June 14, 1961, Cline and her brother were hit head-on in a serious car accident. Cline was thrown through the windshield and sustained serious injuries. 

Unfortunately, the other driver died at the scene. Cline and her brother survived the ordeal, but Cline had to be hospitalized for over a month after. During her hospitalization, Cline was recovering from a snapped wrist, a dislocated hip, and a laceration to her face. 

While stuck in the hospital, “I Fall To Pieces” finally climbed to the top of the charts. And Cline was more than ready to kick off the rest of her successful career when she was finally released from the hospital. 

It didn’t take long for Cline to hit the stage of the Grand Ole Opry, where she performed with crutches. She went back to the studio to record “Crazy” with the then-young songwriter Willie Nelson. Cline allegedly struggled to record the track due to difficulties singing because of the pain she was in. Within six weeks, she was back on the road and eventually recovered from her injuries.

Cline would later passed away in a tragic plane crash in 1963, but the legacy of the iconic country singer and “I Fall To Pieces” lives on today. Cline would be the first woman to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame a decade later in 1973.

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives

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