Everyone knows, about the famous "the day that music died", with legendary music figures Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper dying in that terrible plane crash in early 1959. Sadly another incident would happen 4 years later. March 5th around 6:30 pm cst, a Piper Commanche plane carrying country stars, Patsy Cline, Cowboy Copas, Hawkshaw Hawkins, and lesser known performer Randy Hughes, crashed in a forest near Camden, Tennessee. While stopping in Dyersburg, Tennessee to refuel, the airfield manager insisted they stay the night, due to severe weather and high winds. Sadly they decided to carry on...........
While Patsy's legacy is firmly cemented in history, the others are not exactly household names.
Copas was born in 1913 in Jefferson Township in Adams County, Ohio. He began performing locally at age 14, and appeared on WLW-AM and WKRC-AM in Cincinnati during the 1930s. In 1940 he moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, where he performed on WNOX-AM with his band, the Gold Star Rangers.
In 1943, Copas achieved national fame when he replaced Eddy Arnold as a vocalist in the Pee Wee King band and began performing on the Grand Ole Opry. His first solo single, "Filipino Baby", released by King Records in 1946, hit No. 4 on the Billboard country chart and sparked the most successful period of his career. His biggest hit was "Alabam" released much later in his career, in 1960, remained number one for 3 months. Listen here!
Harold "Hawkshaw" Hawkins was born on December 22, 1921 in Huntington, West Virginia. He gained his nickname as a boy after helping a neighbor track down two missing fishing rods: the neighbor dubbed him "Hawkshaw" after the title character in the comic strip, Hawkshaw the Detective. He traded five trapped rabbits for his first guitar, and first performed on WCMI-AM in Ashland, Kentucky. At 16, he won a talent competition and a job on WSAZ-AM in Huntington, where he formed Hawkshaw and Sherlock with Clarence Jack. They moved to WCHS-AM in Charleston, West Virginia in the late 1930s. In 1940, at 19, he married Reva Barbour, a 16-year-old from Huntington; but they were divorced in 1958.
Beginning in 1954, Hawkins was a regular performer on ABC Radio and TV's Ozark Jubilee in Springfield, Missouri, where he met his second wife, Jean Shepard. After a few years with Columbia and RCA Records, he joined the Grand Ole Opry and returned to King; and in 1962 he recorded his biggest hit, "Lonesome 7-7203". It first appeared on the Billboard country chart as a March 2, 1963 release, three days before Hawkins died. The song was absent from the charts for the two weeks following his death, but re-appeared on March 23 and spent 25 weeks on the chart, four of them at number one, an accomplishment that eluded him in life. Listen here!