Gary James' Interview With Patsy Cline's Husband
Next to Hank Williams, Patsy Cline is probably Country music's most beloved singer. She had a voice and a presence that has never been equaled. It's hard to believe
that Patsy Cline was only thirty years old when a plane crash claimed her life on March 5th, 1963. We talked with someone who was very close to Patsy, her husband
Q - You have a company called Legacy. What's that all about?
A - Legacy is just a corporation that belongs to myself and my children that contains all the rights to Patsy's name and likeness.
Q - Do you spend your days promoting Patsy?
A - No, not really. I work as an independent contractor for a video production company. I work on production, primarily Country
productions. I have an office mainly to keep the junk out of my house, if you know what I mean. (laughs) I've tried working at home before. I did record promotion for
ten years. I've tried workin' out of a house and you never seem to get anything done. Legacy has just a little office of its own. It's very small. It's a place to be
contacted more than anything else. I keep all the files and records and stuff like that. But I still work in the video business.
Q - You haven't written your memoirs yet have you?
A - No. I'll wait 'til they get through writing all the trash, then I'll write my book. In fact, the last book was nothing but a
rehash of the other two. The guy (Mark Bego) who wrote it even took pictures out of our last Patsy video. I mean took pictures off the screen and used them in his book
and claimed they were out of his collection.
Q - Are you surprised that people still care about Patsy Cline?
A - Well, surprised, yeah. I don't know how you would explain it. It's quite a surprise for her to stay around this long,
especially the way radio has become. They don't play that many old artists. I've said this many times. Owen Bradley, being an orchestra leader before he became a
record producer, knew music other than Country. The record companies were howling for more money and the only way you could make more money during that time doing
Country was if you got a crossover record, because there wasn't so much Country exposure. So he got her to do some of the smoother stuff and prettier stuff. I think
Country 'til then had been what I call Hard Country. But also to look at things, maybe she was a little ahead of her time. She slowed down in I guess the late '60s and
the '70s. I think the first comeback deal was when she was in Loretta Lynn's movie A Coal Miner's Daughter. I think that created some interest for the younger
people and that brought on the Patsy movie (Sweet Dreams). The movie itself wasn't that bad, the script was terrible. The Hollywood part was bad. But it brought
her back more. People got exposed to the records and they picked up on it. I get calls from people eight to eighty. There's no particular age group that goes for her
music. They all do.
Q - Sweet Dreams, if I remember correctly, had you meeting Patsy in a bar. Was that correct? How did you meet her?
A - That movie is about half truth and half fiction. There was actually a local band in my hometown of Winchester (Virginia) which
was also Patsy's hometown, and I knew a couple of guys in the band. I used to run around with them at their performances and other places too. They were just buddies.
They were playing at an armory actually, a National Guard armory in a little town ten miles from Winchester. I went to the dance quite often. Patsy was married and
living in Frederick, Maryland at the time. She was appearing on the Jimmy Dean Show in Washington. Of course she was still trying to make a dollar and trying to
be successful. That band that I knew hired her to work at their dance. I actually met her at that dance. When I met her, I didn't know at the time her marital
situation because I didn't know her before. I asked her to dance one night and she said she wasn't allowed to dance while she was working. Later that night I saw her
dancing. I asked her to dance again and she said, "I can't dance while I'm working." I said, "Well, I just saw you dancing." She said, "Well, that's my husband." So I
didn't bother her anymore. Then it was couple of weeks or a month later. I saw her come in the door one night and she came in by herself. So I went back and asked her
to dance again and at that time she did dance. She had separated from her husband and moved back to Winchester with her mother.
Q - What year was this?
A - It was 1956. But I had nothing to do with her marriage break-up. She just showed up one night and her husband was gone. I
didn't know until then that there were problems 'cause I didn't know her.
Q - What attracted you to her?
A - Well, I don't know. Probably one thing was, she was on local television. She was somebody. I'm sure that was part of it. Even
though she wasn't a national star, she was a star in another area. I'm sure that had some attraction. And her voice. I loved her singing. And she was a good-looking
woman. After I had danced with her that first night, she had wrecked her car. The next night she had to go to the Jimmy Dean TV show in Washington and she
didn't have a ride. So I told her I would take her. Of course I didn't have a ride either. I'd wrecked my car, but she didn't know that. I got my buddy to drive us
down there. That was it. First night. I didn't know what the big attraction was, but I found out later it was more than singing or anything like that. It was just her.
Q - You married her in what year?
A - 1957.
Q - From everything I've ever seen or read about Patsy, it seems as if she had a premonition that she wasn't going to be around for
a long time. Did she ever express that feeling to you?
A - No. Patsy was bad for picking up on old country sayings and things like that, that she'd heard other people say. You know,
things like, "If it's my time, it's my time." I think some people took that and stretched it 'cause she never acted like that to me.
Q - When you hear one of Patsy's songs on the radio, what goes through your mind?
A - I wish they would play a different one. (laughs)
Q - Yeah. I can see how "Crazy" would drive you crazy by now.
A - Yeah. They play "Crazy", "I Fall To Pieces", "Walkin' After Midnight" and "Sweet Dreams". Every now and then I'll hear one that
somebody hasn't played in a long time. Boy, it'll get my attention real quick. The others are great. There's no better record than "Crazy" that's ever been cut I
don't think, and no better song that's ever been written. If people come over, I have every CD and record of Patsy's in the house. I very seldom go back just to play a
Patsy Cline record. By not playing them, they are more new to me when I hear them. There's some good stuff back there that was overlooked I think by radio stations.
Q - Do you keep up with some of the people around today like Reba or Martina McBride?
A - I know Reba. I've met her. I've not met Martina and I've met some of the other people 'round that have cut some of Patsy's songs
or say they got influenced by Patsy. I run into 'em at the functions here in town (Nashville) and I've talked to some of 'em.