On September 8, country musician Troy Gentry, part of the duo Montgomery Gentry, died in a South Jersey helicopter crash. Investigators believe that engine problems were the primary cause of the aviation accident.
Part of being a successful musician is long periods of time traveling, often on airplanes. And tragically, Gentry is not the only popular musician who has died in an aviation accident. These types of accidents stretch back to the dawn of the era of commercial flight. This list, by no means exhaustive, details the lives and deaths of several country stars who left this world too soon.
- Patsy Cline died at the age of 30 in a plane crash in 1963. She was one of country’s first big female stars. Her plane crashed during a heavy downpour on her way to Nashville. The crash also killed Cowboy Copas, who rose to popularity in the 1940s, and Hawkshaw Hawkins, a popular singer throughout the 1950s.
- Buddy Holly, while not a country musician himself, has influenced many genres including country. He died on February 3, 1959 when his plane crashed after taking off in inclement weather. Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper were also killed. That day is popularly referred to as, “The Day the Music Died.”
- Jim Reeves was one of country’s first influential stars to make it big overseas. He died in 1964 while flying his own plane outside of Nashville.
- Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines and Cassie Gaines of the influential Southern rock Lynyrd Skynyrd died in a plane crash in October 1977. The cause was insufficient fuel. Their influence can still be felt in much contemporary country music.
- While heading to a New Years’ Show in 1985, teen idol Ricky Nelson died in a private plane crash in Texas. The cause was determined to be a faulty heater that led to a fire.
- After a concert in 1991, eight members of country queen Reba McEntire’s band died due to poor visibility in a plane crash. Her sixteenth album, For My Broken Heart, was dedicated to those she lost.
- John Denver, perhaps best known for his hit “Rocky Mountain High,” died in 1997 when his experimental plane crashed after running out of fuel.
Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”