Chart Rewind: In 1961, Patsy Cline’s ‘I Fall to Pieces’ Rose to No. 1 on Hot Country Songs

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In the Billboard issue dated Aug. 7, 1961, Patsy Cline’s “I Fall to Pieces” began a two-week reign on the Hot Country Songs chart.

The iconic track, penned by Hank Cochran and Harlan Howard, was produced by Owen Bradley. It also crossed over to the all-genre Billboard Hot 100, reaching No. 12.

Almost two months before ruling Hot Country Songs for the first time, Cline was seriously injured in a car accident in Nashville. Two passengers in the other car were killed and Cline incurred several injuries.

Cline led Hot Country Songs again for five weeks in 1962 with “She’s Got You.” In between her two No. 1s, “Crazy,” written by Willie Nelson, reached No. 2 on Hot Country Songs and became Cline’s lone Hot 100 top 10, reaching No. 9.

Born Virginia Patterson Hensley in Winchester, Va., on Sept. 8, 1932, Cline broke through before Hot Country Songs became an all-encompassing genre songs survey in 1958, when fellow legendary hit “Walkin’ After Midnight” reached the top three of multiple country tallies in 1957. She joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1960.

On March 5, 1963, Cline was killed in a plane crash in Camden, Tenn., which also ended the lives of country artists Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins. Cline was just 30 years old.

In 1973, Cline became the first woman inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. “Cline is frequently invoked as a standard for female vocalists, and she has inspired scores of singers including k. d. lang, Loretta Lynn, Linda Ronstadt, Trisha Yearwood and Wynonna Judd,” the organization praises. “Her unique, crying style and vocal impeccability have established her reputation as the quintessential torch singer.”

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