Patsy Cline: Rolling Stones' #13 of The 200 Greatest Singers of All Time (2023)

Patsy Cline
Patsy Cline
Born: Virginia Patterson Hensley
September 8, 1932
Winchester, Virginia, US
Died: March 5, 1963
Camden, Tennessee, US
Cause of death: Plane crash
Genres: Country, Nashville sound, honky-tonk, rockabilly, traditional pop, gospel
Instrument: Vocals

Patsy Cline, a prominent figure in country music, was one of the first to achieve pop stardom. Her reign as queen of country music ended when the small plane carrying her, manager Randy Hughes, and band members Hawkshaw Hawkins & Cowboy Copas crashed due to bad weather. In 1973, Cline became the first female solo artist inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Her legacy was further cemented when she was featured in the United States "Legends" series of postal stamps in 1993.

Cline's musical prowess garnered accolades from VH1 and Country Music Television. In 1999, VH1 ranked her as the 11th greatest female rock and roll artist, while Country Music Television included her in their list of the "40 Greatest Women of Country Music" in 2003. 

Patsy Cline US postage stamp

Two of her songs were counted on Rolling Stones' list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2004: "I Fall to Pieces" at Number 241 and "Crazy" at 85. Rolling Stone magazine also ranked her 46th on their "100 Greatest Singers of All-Time" list in 2010 and 12th on their "100 Greatest Country Artists of All-Time" list in 2017. In 2023, the same publication named her the 13th greatest singer.



Walkin' After Midnight Single by Patsy Cline
Walkin' After Midnight
Single: Patsy Cline
Album: Patsy Cline
B-side: A Poor Man's Roses (Or a Rich Man's Gold)
Released: February 11, 1957
Recorded: November 8, 1956
Genre: Country, Nashville Sound
Songwriters: Alan Block, Don Hecht

"Walkin' After Midnight" was Patsy Cline's first hit. On January 21, 1957, she performed the song on the American TV show Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts.

Godfrey had "talent scouts" who brought discoveries to the program to showcase their talents. The winner was determined by a meter that judged audience applause. The night Cline sang, the clapping was so loud it froze the device. Cline won first place.

Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts

She was signed to Four Star Records, a famous Country music label. They rush-released a single through a licensing agreement with Decca Records on February 11, 1957. It became a crossover hit on Billboard, charting at number 2 on the Country chart and 17 on Billboard's Hot 100. 

Richie Unterberger of Allmusic wrote: "More than any of the other songs she recorded for the 4 Star label in the 1950s, it anticipates the successful country-pop fusion of her crossover hits for Decca in the early 1960s."



I Fall to Pieces Single by Patsy Cline
I Fall to Pieces
Single: Patsy Cline
Album: Showcase
B-side: Lovin' in Vain
Released: January 30, 1961
Recorded: November 16, 1960
Genre: Country pop, Nashville Sound
Songwriters: Hank Cochran, Harlan Howard                                      

Patsy Cline's career endured a dry spell after her success with "Walkin' After Midnight." She signed with Decca Records at the end of her contract with Four Star in 1960. 

In 1961, She released "I Fall to Pieces." The song topped the country chart and peaked at 12 on the pop charts. According to Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs in 2004:  

"Cline was reluctant to record this ballad, which Brenda Lee had turned down until Bradley coaxed her into it. Seven months pregnant when she cut it, Cline belted the ending the first time through, but the magic happened when she dropped to her lower register on her second try."

                                         
Crazy
Single: Patsy Cline
Album: Showcase
B-side: Who Can I Count On?
Released: October 1961
Genre: Country, Traditional Pop
Songwriter: Willie Nelson

Written by Willie Nelson, "Crazy" was one of Patsy Cline's biggest hits. It reached Number 2 on the country charts and crossed to the pop charts as a top 10 single at Number 9Media outlets, including National Public Radio, New Musical Express, and American Songwriter, defined "Crazy" as a country music standard.


In 1996, Cline's version became the all-time most-played jukebox song in the United States. The Library of Congress inducted her rendition into the National Recording Registry in 2003. In 2018, it was included by New Musical Express on their list  of "25 Best Country Songs of All Time." In 2021 it ranked Number 195 on Rolling Stone's list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

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