Who was Patsy Cline and what was her Net Worth

Patsy Cline was an American country music singer who had a net worth equal to $10 million at the time of her death in 1963, after adjusting for inflation. Known for her rich tone and contralto voice, Patsy Cline was one of the most successful and influential vocalists of the 20th century. Cline was a pioneer in the country music industry and helped pave the way for women in the genre.

She was the first solo female performer inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and she was featured on VH1’s “100 Greatest Women of Rock and Roll” list, Country Music Television’s “40 Greatest Women of Country Music” list, and “Rolling Stone” magazine’s “100 Greatest Singers of All-Time” and “100 Greatest Country Artists of All-Time” lists. Patsy released the studio albums “Patsy Cline” (1957), “Showcase” (1961), and “Sentimentally Yours” (1962) during her life, and “A Portrait of Patsy Cline” (1964), “That’s How a Heartache Begins” (1964), and “Always” (1980) were released posthumously. Cline released 24 singles, and “Walkin’ After Midnight,” “I Fall to Pieces,” “Crazy,” “She’s Got You,” “When I Get Thru with You,” and “Leavin’ on Your Mind” were top 10 hits on the “Billboard” Hot Country Songs chart. Sadly, Cline died in a plane crash on March 5, 1963, at the age of 30.

Early Life

Patsy Cline was born Virginia Patterson Hensley on September 8, 1932, in Winchester, Virginia. She was the daughter of Hilda Patterson and Samuel Hensley, and Hilda was just 16 when Patsy was born. Samuel also had two older children who had lived with a foster family since the death of their mother. Cline had two younger siblings, Samuel Jr. and Sylvia Mae, and the family moved frequently, living wherever Samuel could find employment as a blacksmith. Later in life, Patsy revealed that her father (who left the family in the late ’40s) had sexually abused her, and when she told her close friend Loretta Lynn about it, she asked her to “take this to your grave.” At the age of 13, Cline was hospitalized after coming down with rheumatic fever and a throat infection, and she said of the experience, “I developed a terrible throat infection and my heart even stopped beating. The doctor put me in an oxygen tent. You might say it was my return to the living after several days that launched me as a singer. The fever affected my throat and when I recovered I had this booming voice like Kate Smith’s.” Patsy soon became interested in singing and began performing in a local church choir with her mother. Cline was also a self-taught pianist. As a teenager, she performed on the Winchester radio station WINC and starred in a nightclub cabaret act. Patsy attended John Handley High School, but she dropped out before earning her diploma in order to help support her family, taking a job as a soda jerk and clerk at Gaunt’s Drug Store.

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Success

When Cline was 15, she wrote to the Grand Ole Opry and asked for an audition, and the Opry wrote her back and asked her for recordings and photos. Patsy and her family soon traveled to Nashville, and she auditioned for Moon Mullican, an Opry performer. Though the audition went well, Cline didn’t hear back from the Opry, so her family drove back to Virginia. In 1952, she auditioned for Bill Peer, a local country bandleader, and began performing with Bill Peer’s Melody Boys and Girls. Peer later suggested that she adopt a stage name, so the recently married singer chose “Patsy” (inspired by her middle name, Patterson) to go with her new last name, Cline. In 1953, she competed in a local country music contest and won $100 as well as the opportunity to regularly perform on “Connie B. Gay’s Town and Country Time.” In 1954, Peer distributed demo tapes featuring Patsy, and that September, she signed a two-year contract with Four Star Records (which allowed the record label to keep most of the royalties from her music sales). The label leased the songs from Cline’s first recording session to Decca Records, and her first single, “A Church, a Courtroom, Then Goodbye,” was released in 1955. In January 1957, she performed “Walkin’ After Midnight” on the television program “Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts,” and she won that night’s contest. Decca Records released the song as a single a few weeks later, and it reached #2 on the “Billboard” Hot Country Songs chart and #12 on the “Billboard” Hot 100 chart.

Patsy’s self-titled debut album was released in August 1957 on Decca Records, and it was followed by “Showcase” in 1961 and “Sentimentally Yours” in 1962. After moving to Nashville in the late ’50s, Cline entered into a management deal with Randy Hughes, who got her booked on the Grand Ole Opry several times. In 1961, she officially signed with Decca, and her next four singles, “I Fall to Pieces,” “Crazy,” “She’s Got You,” and “When I Get Thru with You” reached the top 10 on the “Billboard” Hot Country Songs chart. “Crazy” was written by Willie Nelson, and when her second husband, Charlie Dick, suggested that she record it, Patsy refused, stating, “I don’t care what you say. I don’t like it and I ain’t gonna record it. And that’s that.” She eventually decided to perform it differently than Nelson, and her version of the song reached #2 on the “Billboard” Hot Country Songs and Adult Contemporary charts and #9 on the “Billboard” Hot 100 chart. By the end of 1961, Cline had been named “Favorite Female Vocalist” by “Billboard” magazine” and “Most Programmed Female Artist” by “Cashbox Magazine.” In 1962, she spent over a month performing at the Merri-Mint Theatre in Las Vegas, making her the first female country artist to headline her own Vegas show. Patsy’s final single, 1963’s “Leavin’ on Your Mind,” was released two months before her death and reached #8 on the “Billboard” Hot Country Songs chart.

Personal Life

Patsy married Gerald Edward Cline on March 7, 1953, and they divorced four years later. She then wed Charlie Dick on September 15, 1957, and they welcomed daughter Julie on August 25, 1958, and son Randy on February 28, 1961. Though their marriage was reportedly “fueled by alcohol, argument, passion, jealousy, success, tears and laughter,” Patsy and Charlie remained together until her death in 1963. In June 1961, Cline and her brother, Sam Jr., were struck head-on by another car while driving in Nashville. Patsy was thrown into the windshield and sustained extensive facial injuries as well as a broken wrist and a dislocated hip. Two people who were riding in the car that hit Patsy and Sam Jr. died after being taken to the hospital, and when Cline arrived, doctors initially didn’t expect her to survive. Patsy underwent surgery and spent a month in the hospital. Six weeks after the accident, Cline made her first public appearance at the Grand Ole Opry, where she told the audience, “The greatest gift, I think, that you folks coulda given me was the encouragement that you gave me. Right at the very time I needed you the most, you came through with the flying-est colors. And I just want to say you’ll just never know how happy you made this ol’ country gal.”

Death

On March 3, 1963, Patsy and several other country music artists performed at a benefit for disc jockey “Cactus” Jack Call’s family at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas. Cline couldn’t fly out of the Fairfax Airport the following day due to fog, and Dottie West invited her to ride back to Nashville with her (a 16-hour drive), but Patsy declined, stating, “Don’t worry about me, Hoss. When it’s my time to go, it’s my time.” Cline decided to fly back home on March 5th in a Piper PA-24 Comanche plane piloted by her manager, Randy Hughes, along with Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins. The plane refueled in Rogers, Arkansas, and at 5 p.m., it landed in Dyersburg, Tennessee. The Dyersburg Municipal Airport airfield manager suggested that the group spend the night because of inclement weather and high winds and offered them free rooms, but Hughes refused, saying, “I’ve already come this far. We’ll be there before you know it.” At 6:07 p.m., the plane took off, and it crashed in a forest near Camden, Tennessee, soon after. When Cline’s wristwatch was recovered, it was discovered that it had stopped at 6:20 p.m. Everyone on board was killed, and some of the items that were recovered from the plane were later donated to Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame. Thousands of mourners attended Patsy’s memorial service, and she was laid to rest in a gold casket at Shenandoah Memorial Park in Winchester, Virginia. A bronze plaque reading “Death Cannot Kill What Never Dies: Love” marks her grave.

Awards and Honors

Posthumously, Patsy was inducted into the Country Music Hall Of Fame in 1973, was honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995 and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1999. Her songs “Crazy” and “I Fall to Pieces” have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and in 1993, Cline was featured on stamps as part of the United States Postal Service’s “Legends” series. In 2005, her childhood home was added to the National Register of Historic Places, and after an organization called Celebrating Patsy Cline Inc. renovated the home, it opened for tours in 2011. The Patsy Cline Museum opened in 2017 on the second floor of the Nashville building that houses the Johnny Cash Museum.

Real Estate

In early 1962, Cline received a $22,000 royalty check from her record company and used it to make a down payment on a 2,770 square foot home near Nashville. Sadly, Patsy lived in her four-bedroom, three-bathroom “dream house” for less than a year, and after her death, her husband sold it to singer Wilma Burgess. Wilma believed that the house was haunted, and in the book “Honky Tonk Angel: The Intimate Story of Patsy Cline,” she stated, “You’d be in an upstairs room, and the toilet downstairs would flush by itself. Doors would open and close by themselves.” In April 2022, the home sold for $540,000.

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Sarah Meere
Sarah Meere
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