Well, Patsy Cline really isn’t coming to Iowa, she passed away in 1963 from a vile airplane crash that took some other gifted country music performers with her.  What we plan to do in Iowa this year, is induct Patsy Cline into America’s Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame.  To do this properly, we expect Patsy’s husband, Charlie Dick, and their daughter Julie, to be at the festival where this will happen.  Their’s is the opening salvo at a seven-day event that is now in it’s 36th year.  It all starts on August 29th, 2011, at the Plymouth County Fairgrounds in LeMars, Iowa.  There are ten stages and over 600 performers at this event, and the first big show on the main stage is this “Tribute to Patsy Cline.”

     Patsy’s contributions to country music have been enormous.  Her life has been a testament to the continuing success of what we now call ‘rural country music,’ far different than what is heard on radio these days.  Patsy was born Sept. 8, 1932 in Winchester, Virginia.  She had a kind of throat virus when she was just a girl, and doctors today indicate her rich vibrant contralto voice was a result of that childhood sickness.

     She did all the things a young person does when obsessed with music.  She learned everything by ‘ear’ and had perfect pitch.  Her first break came when she asked WINC disc-jockey Jimmy McCoy if he would let her sing on his live radio program.  He did, and she did, and the rest is history.  She eventually moved from that program to do one called “Town And Country” with co-performer Jimmy Dean.  She debuted on the Grand Ole Opry in 1956, and later went on the Ozark Jubilee.  She recorded “Walking After Midnight” reluctantly, and in 1957 appeared on the Arthur Godfrey show, singing that song, which helped her win the competition handily.  Godfrey was most responsible for making her a star.  She also met her future husband, Charlie Dick, in 1957.  After the birth of their daughter Julie, they moved to Nashville, where she signed with Decca Records, her first release being “I Fall To Pieces.”  She joined the Grand Ole Opry as a regular member in 1960, becoming one of their biggest stars.  In 1961, she and Charlie had a baby boy they named Randy.  After a serious automobile accident that same year, Patsy Cline devoted the rest of her life to Christianity.  She recorded Willie Nelson’s “Crazy” again reluctantly, not getting it at all on the first takes. She finally did it ‘her way’ and when she debuted it on the Grand Ole Opry, she got three standing ovations.  From then on she sky rocketed into the hearts of every person who love country and pop music, and her influence is still felt today.

     Appearing on the 7pm “Tribute to Patsy Cline” August 29th, will also be the man who ‘discovered’ her, Joltin’ Jim McCoy.  Jim was a country singer, songwriter, promoter, and disc jockey, and still owns the Troubadour Bar and Steakhouse in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.  He remembers while on WINC, when Patsy joined him, she would say, “We’ll do this song in C, and she would start singing solo, and of course she would be in the key of C.  Jim recorded “That’s What Makes The World Go Round,” for Starday-King, and though he was never a super-star in country music, he was one of the most liked and admired country performers in eastern United States.  He was inducted into America’s Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006 in Missouri Valley, Iowa, and he and his wife still host a Patsy Cline Reunion Show at the Troubadour, on Labor Day Weekend.

     Also on the “Tribute” show in LeMars, Iowa, is Sandy Uttley, from Pennsylvania.  She recorded a tribute album at Jim McCoy’s Troubadour Recording Studio, with him producing.  She will receive the Rural Roots Music Commission’s “Country Tribute Album of the Year” award while at LeMars this year.  Jackie Shewey, the “Pride of the Prairie” is also scheduled to do the ‘Tribute’ show at LeMars.  One of the upper midwest’s most admired vocalists and performers, she does a comedy routine of Patsy Cline material, and a select number of Cline songs, which she has recorded.  Another Cline tribute performer is Elaine Peacock from South Dakota.  More will be added later, but it is encouraging to see so many take part in this wonderful opportunity to ‘remember’ one of the finest female vocalists in country music.


About bobeverhart

A life-time devotee of America's old-time rural country music, performing, recording, preserving, promoting, and writing about it.
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