An excerpt from HONKY
TONK ANGEL: The Intimate Story of Patsy Cline
CARL BUTLER WAS ONE OF COUNTRY
TOP HILLBILLY STARS
~~ HE HAD NUMEROUS HITS ON COLUMBIA RECORDS
AND LATER WAS JOINED IN HIS ACT AND ON RECORD BY HIS WIFE PEARL
and Charlie arrived in Nashville in late August 1959. They rented a two-story house
at 213 East Marthona Drive off Old HickoryBoulevard in Madison, north of town ... Until
their furniture arrived, they stayed
at a motel and looked up old friends.
Carl Butler and his wife Pearl were at the top of their
"We met Patsy a couple of times," Pearl recalled,
"on the Town and Country Jamboree [in Washington, D.C.]. While Carl would be out
singing, I palled around with everyone backstage. And, one night, there she was
decked out in one of the cutest cowgirl outfits I'd ever seen. Patsy came up and
said, 'Hi, Pearl. I'm Patsy Cline." It was love at first sight. Patsy had this
black address book and, before we left, she took down our address. She said,
"Someday, I'm gonne be coming to Nashville and I'll look y'all up.' I replied,
"Y'all be sure n' come see us! If you don't, we'll feel mighty hurt.'" . . .
In October, there was a knock on the Bulter's door.
"Why, my God!" Pearl exclaimed. "Oh, my gosh. Carl,
it's Patsy, Charlie and their little girl! Y'all come in here out of the cold."
"You mean, you're gonna invite us in?"
"Of course, Y'all can stay if y'all want. Our
home is your home."
"We've been to see a lot of people who told us
to look them up if we ever came to town and not a one invited
"Hon," said Pearl, "we ain't nobody
"It's sure nice of you, Pearl," replied
"Heck, you're friends, ain't you?" declared
The Dicks and Butlers spent the day talking shop,
cooking, eating and with Pearl carrying on over [Patsy and Charlie's daughter]
was the beginning of a long and beautiful friendship.
Butler,, wearing and with
western costumes given to her
by Patsy after she dropped her
"cowgirl" image. The outfits
were designed and made by
Patsy's mother, Hilda Hensley.
|Photo by ELLIS NASSOUR; from
Honky Tonk Angel: The Intimate Story of Patsy Cline;©1981,1993,
March 6, 1963
Butlers were returning from dates in Calfornia. The utility trailer behidn their Cadillac
was packed with instruments, amplifiers, boxes of records and phtographs and Carl and the
western costumes Patsy had given Pearl.
"I can't tell you, having known Patsy all
those years, how proud I was to be wearing those outfits," Pearl said. "I felt
like a million dollars on those shows!"
It was about daybreak. The Butlers were almost
home, driving through the "tennessee sticks" in an intense rain and windstorm.
They were listening to Nashville's WSM Radio and Grant Turner, the disc jockey, played one
of their songs.
"No matter where we were," explained Pearl,
"when that happened we'd always call the disc jockey at the particular radio station
to thank him for playing our record. They got a kick out of that, and played more of
our records! We kept looking for a phone booth to call Grant, but you could hardly
see a thing in front of you.
"Spotting a phone booth, I yelled, 'There's one,
Carl! Pull over.' He got as close as possible so I wouldn't get real wet, but the
wind was blowing so bad I could barely get the door open. I dialed the operator, who heard
the wind howling. She said, 'Ma'am, if the booth starts to blow over, don't worry
about hanging up. Just get out.' I told her I appreciated her advice, but that
I'd probably be in it!
"When I got through to Grant, he asked, 'Pearl,
where are y'all?' I said, 'What do you wanna know that for? You gonna come
meet us for coffee and doughnuts?' He sounded excited. 'Pearl, just
whereabouts are you?' I replied, 'Heck, I don't know. Not far from Nashville.
Just a minute. Let me yell to Carl.' i yelled, but he didn't hear me.
I told Grand, 'Hon, I think we're someplace right outside of Camden.
Know where that is?'
"He said, 'That's about where the plane crashed!'
My first instinct was to look out of the booth, but I couldn't see no place.
That's how bad the rain was. I asked, "What plane are you talking about?
Who crashed? Somebody we know?' Grant answered, 'Oh, honey, you don't
know?' I said, 'Don't I know what?' He told me, 'Yes, you know them.'
'Them?' I asked. And he told me what happened, and I couldn't believe it. The
receiver just hung in my hand. I prayed to God it wasn't so. I didn't know how
to tell Carl. He loved Hawk and Cowboy and adored Patsy."
. . .
Stations everywhere interrupted programming to report the
tragedy ... On WSM, his voice breaking, Grant Turner said, "Ladies and gentlemen,
this is the hardest thing I've ever had to do. The plane bearing patsy clin, Hawshaw
Hawkisn and Cowboy Copas has crashed, and all of the above have perished. Patsy
Cline, Hawkshaw Hawkins and Cowboy Copas are dead."
When he heard the official announcement, Carl turned off
the highway onto a gravel and dire road.
"It twisted and turned every which way," recalled
Pearl. "I fianally said, 'Hon, where are you going?' and he stopped and we
tried to pull ourselves together. All I could think of were Patsy's costumes in the
trailer ... When Carl started up the car, we were lost. He turned around and headed
back till we hit the highway. I've tried and tried to find that road and, to this
day, I've never been able to. I used to think, 'My goodness, did we go on a road
that didn't exist?'"
The Butlers had turned onto Mule Barn Road.
Had they proceeded another mile, they would have encountered the cars from the
search party waiting to go into the area.
Miller, one of Patsy's closest male buddies drove from Nashville to
the Camden area
when he heard the news reports, and ran from farm house to farm house asking for
any loud noises, searched through the woods all night, yelling at the top of his lungs : "Patsy! Hawk! Cowboy! Randy!"
Hawk! Cowboy! Randy!" At approximately 5:30 in the
morning, he came upon a clearing,
where he spotted a fire tower.
"I climbed to the top and there
it was, about twenty yards away ... It was
All material on this page is from Honky Tonk Angel: The
Intimate Story of Patsy Cline
by ELLIS NASSOUR; ©1981,1993, 2008