As a result of the significant amount of traveling that musicians do, they have an elevated risk compared to that faced by the general population of being involved in an accident. Some of the most iconic figures in the history of country music are included in the list of country musicians who were killed in airplane accidents. See the list of Singers Who Died in Plane Crashes.
Singers Who Died in Plane Crashes
S. Glenn Miller (1944)
On December 15, 1944, while traveling across the English Channel, the well-known bandleader from the swing period vanished. He was a passenger on a single-engine UC-64-A Norseman. About 50 miles north of London is Twinwood Airfield, where the plane took off to head to Paris, where 40-year-old Major Miller was going to make plans to bring his Army band to the continent to entertain American troops. He failed to show up. There is no shortage of speculation concerning this mystery.
One theory suggests the Norseman’s wings froze, leading to a crash landing in the Channel, while another suggests a British bomber returning home after bad weather had hidden its target jettisoned its bomb load and accidentally blew the Norseman out of the air. Colonel Norman Baessell, together with passenger John Morgan, the pilot, and Miller, were last seen disappearing into the night.
Song By Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, And The Big Bopper (1959)
Buddy Holly (known for his hit “Peggy Sue”), 22, Ritchie Valens (then 17), and J.P. Richardson (then 28) all died in a plane disaster on February 3, 1959, which became known as “The Day the Music Died” thanks to Don McLean’s “American Pie.”
The single-engine plane crashed in a cornfield not long after taking off from Clear Lake, Iowa, on its route to Fargo, North Dakota, for a performance in adjacent Moorhead, Minnesota. Roger Peterson, the 21-year-old pilot, and everyone else on board perished in the crash. After a coin toss with guitarist Tommy Allsup, the “La Bamba” hitmaker Valens was allowed to board the plane.
The ailing Richardson was offered Waylon Jennings’ spot in Holly’s band, which Jennings, at the time, occupied. The pilot, Peterson, was found to be at fault because he had not adequately planned for the weather conditions he would encounter during the flight.
Passed away at the young age of 22 on August 25, 2001, in an airplane crash off the coast of the Abaco Islands in The Bahamas.
When the twin-engine Cessna, which was overloaded by 700 pounds, crashed shortly after takeoff, roughly 200 feet from the end of the runway, all eight passengers and the pilot were murdered instantaneously.
An autopsy found the pilot had alcohol and cocaine in his system and indicated he was not qualified to operate that particular aircraft.
was a hip-hop singer and actress who won five Grammys.
Harris, Kylie Rae
Passed away in an automobile crash on September 4, 2019, at the age of 34, in the Taos, New Mexico area.
She had three times the legal limit of alcohol in her system and was doing 95 mph (153 kph) when she crashed, killing herself and the driver of the car she hit.
Was a singer-songwriter who first gained widespread attention through their role on the TV series “Troubadour, TX.”
Reeves, Jim (1964)
Similar to Cline’s death, country musician Jim Reeves, age 40, was killed in a plane crash. However, Reeves was piloting his own plane. The vocalist, famous for songs like “Four Walls,” left Batesville, Arkansas, for Nashville on July 31, 1964. Reeves was piloting a Beechcraft 35-B33 Debonair with a single engine. Only his manager, Dean Manuel, was on board. Reeves apparently got lost in the sky after he flew into a heavy rainstorm above Brentwood, Tennessee. The plane crashed into the earth at a tremendous rate of speed. The search, which included country music stars Marty Robbins and Ernest Tubb, took 42 hours.
Otis Reddick (1967)
On December 10, 1967, 26-year-old soul singer Otis Reddick was killed when the chartered twin-engine Beechcraft 18 he was flying in crashed. Originally scheduled to land in Madison, Wisconsin, the plane carrying Redding and his band the Bar-Kays had taken off from Cleveland. Fog and chilly drizzle characterized the day’s weather. As it was approaching Madison, the plane crashed into Lake Monona.
There is still no word on what caused the crash, but it’s possible that Beechcraft engine trouble was to blame. Ben Cauley, a 20-year-old musician, was the only one of the seven passengers to survive the crash. (A local Madison band called the Grim Reapers, featuring future Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen, were scheduled to open for Redding that night.) Redding’s final single, “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay,” topped the charts four months after his death. This was his first number-one single.
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A. J. Croce
When 30-year-old singer-songwriter Jim Croce gave his final performance on September 20, 1973, at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana, he was on the verge of becoming a major star. He had already released two albums, one featuring the hit “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown,” and another in which he was reportedly working.
Tired of traveling, he couldn’t wait to reach Sherman, Texas, the tour’s next and final stop. The pilot of his chartered Beechcraft E18 was Robert N. Elliott, who had to make most of the three-mile trip to the airport on foot because he couldn’t get a cab.
Immediately after takeoff from Natchitoches Regional Airport, the airplane hit a pecan tree. All six onboard, including guitarist Maury Muehleisen, comedian George Stevens, road manager Dennis Rast, and Croce’s agent, Kenneth D. Cortese, died in the crash. The investigation blamed pilot error.
For the Band Lynyrd Skynyrd (1977)
On October 20, 1977, members of the country rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd (“Sweet Home Alabama,” “Free Bird”) were flying in a chartered Convair CV-240 with two engines. It had been only three days after the release of the band’s fifth album, Street Survivors. The plane took off from Greenville, South Carolina, and was headed to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, when it crashed into a field near Gillsburg, Mississippi.
The pilots failed to adequately monitor their fuel condition, which led to the jet running out of gasoline, as concluded by the investigation into the crash. The assistant tour manager, the pilot, and the copilot, together with lead vocalist Ronnie Van Zant (29), guitarist Steve Gaines (28), and backup singer Cassie Gaines (29), perished in the crash. The other twenty passengers on board the Convair all made it out alive. The original cover for Street Survivors by MCA Records depicted the band amidst flames; for the reissue, the label chose a new design.
Singing sensation Jenni Rivera
Struck down and killed in a plane crash near Monterrey, Mexico on December 9, 2012, at the age of 43. She Was a singer and actress of Mexican descent in the United States.
Aged 26, she was one of five people who perished in a plane crash near Caratinga, Brazil on November 5, 2021.
More than a hundred thousand people attended her burial; she was a famous Brazilian singer, composer, and musician.