Today is the birthday of the late singer Patsy Cline, who was born Virginia
Patterson Hensley in Winchester, Va. She would have been 65. Cline's
mournful voice was a staple of country radio and her biggest hit, "Crazy,"
written by cohort Willie Nelson, has been one of the most-covered country
songs of all time. Cline began learning piano at the age of 8, but was a
teenager before she took to singing. She appeared in her 20s on
Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts and won the attention of record executives. Cline's hits were ever-present on country radio after that, but she sought a wider audience; her single "Walkin' After Midnight" was a smash on country and pop charts.
Constantly shunning a "cowgirl" image, Cline rose to the status of country
and pop legend. Her struggle to be a pop crossover caused a new sound, known as "smooth country," to sweep Nashville. Songs such as "I Fall to Pieces"
and "Crazy" furthered this new sound. On March 5, 1963, Cline was killed in
a plane crash returning from a Kansas City show. She was 30 when she died.
Posthumously, she became the first woman inductee into the Country Music
Hall of Fame, and her vocal sound has since been coveted by many a country
starlet, including Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt.
Other birthdays: Sal Valintino (Beau Brummels), 55; Kelly Grocutt (Electric
Light Orchestra), 52; the late Ron "Pig Pen" McKernan (Grateful Dead), 52; Dean Daughtry (Atlanta Rhythm Section), 51; Michael Lartdie (Great White), 39;
David Lewis (Atlantic Starr), 39; David Steele (ex-English Beat/Fine Young
Cannibals), 37; Aimee Mann and Ross Childress (Collective Soul).