Cowboy Copas is one of those “other persons” lumped together when a celebrity dies in an accident. In this instance, the celebrity is country legend Patsy Cline, and the accident is the plane crash that killed Cline, Copas, singer Hawkshaw Hawkins and Cline manager Randy Hughes after a concert in Kansas City, Kan.
Lloyd Estel Copas was born in Ohio in 1913. After singing locally, he started singing with the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville and had a string of hits from the mid-1940s until the early 1950s. He continued to perform but didn’t have a hit for about eight years.
Released in the summer of 1960, “Alabam” was Copas’ biggest hit of his career. It was No. 1 on the country charts for 12 weeks and was his only song to reach the Hot 100, reaching No. 63.
On Sunday, March 3, 1963, Copas, Cline and Hawkins performed at three concerts at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kan. They were benefits for the family of Cactus Jack Call, a local disc jockey who had been killed in a car crash.
Poor weather delayed their departure, but on Tuesday, March 5, 1963, they left KC in a Piper Comanche piloted by Hughes, who was Copas’ son-in-law in addition to being Cline’s manager. After a refueling stop, the plan flew into severe weather and crashed about 90 miles outside of Nashville, killing all aboard.