The Grand Ole Opry will recognize the 50th Anniversary of the tragedy that took the lives of Opry members Patsy Cline, Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins during its first Tuesday Night Opry of the season on March 5. The Three Opry members will be remembered with performances of their hit songs by Opry and Country Music Hall of Fame member Jean Shepard (who was married to Hawkins at the time of his death), Mandy Barnett (who portrayed Cline in Always…Patsy Cline), Terri Clark, John Conlee and Chuck Mead & His Grassy Knoll Boys. Among others on the first Tuesday Night Opry of the year are Academy of Country Music Award nominees Florida Georgia Line and Opry group Riders In The Sky.
On March 5, 1963, a small plane carrying the three Opry stars plus Randy Hughes, the plane’s pilot who also served as Cline’s manager, crashed near Camden, Tenn., leaving no survivors. On March 9, 1963 during the first Opry performance following the tragedy, Opry Manager Ott Devine addressed the crowd following a minute of silence in honor of the Opry stars. “…They would want us to keep smiling and recall the happier occasions,” Devine said. “I feel that I can speak for all them when I say, let’s continue in the tradition of the Grand Ole Opry.”
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On Saturday (March 2) at 1:30 p.m. The Country Music Hall of Fame will hold a special panel discussion, Forever With Us: The 50th Anniversary of a Country Music Tragedy, in memory of Cline, Copas, Hawkins and Hughes. Hosted by Eddie Stubbs, the panel features Charlie Dick, Kathy Hughes, Country Music Hall of Fame member Jean Shepard and Bobby Wright.
The program, which will take place in the museum’s Ford Theater, is included with museum admission and free to museum members. Seating for the program is limited, and program passes are required for admittance. (Visit the museum’s website for complete details.) The program will be streamed live at countrymusichalloffame.org.
Stubbs will speak with Cline’s widower, Charlie Dick; Copas’s daughter and Hughes’ widow, Kathy Hughes; Hawkins’s widow, Jean Shepard; and Bobby Wright, son of Anglin’s longtime partner, Johnnie Wright, about their experiences and memories of the tragic events.
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