It is never to easy to lose someone you love. It’s even harder when they are unexpectedly stripped from your life. Now, imagine that times eight. That is what Reba McEntire went through on March 16, 1991, when a plane carrying eight members of her band and crew crashed into the side of a mountain, killing all on board including the pilots.
Reba shared a post on her Instagram page remembering her friends Jim Hammon, Kirk Cappello, Joey Cigainero, Paula Kaye Evans, Michael Thomas, Terry Jackson, Tony Saputo and Chris Austin. She sweetly and sincerely wrote, “Friends forever. I know Suzy and Joe join me in saying we miss you guys and still love you with all our hearts! 27 year[s] … seems like yesterday. #musicinheaven #lovealways ❤”
Just over a month after this tragic accident, Reba was named the “Top Female Vocalist” at the ACM Awards and, after accepting her award and thanking the Academy, her record label and her family, she dedicated the trophy to her “eight buddies.” With the audience of industry peers, friends and families on their feet, tears poured down Reba’s cheeks.
Later that year, in October, Reba released her 16th studio album, “For My Broken Heart,” and dedicated it to the beloved bandmates that she lost too soon. In the liner notes for the project she said that it represented “a form of healing,” but when she sang the title track later at the CMA Awards, it was obvious that there was still much healing to be done.
In a pristine white gown, Reba delivered an impeccable performance until near the end of the song when her voice broke and her emotions took over.
Two members of Reba’s band and several members of her crew were on another plane that safely made the journey from San Diego to Fort Wayne, Indiana. Reba and her then husband, Narvel Blackstock, had remained in California to give the weary singer an extra day of rest.
In the years that followed the accident, Reba has spoken about it, and while filming a piece for “Oprah’s Master Class,” she discussed the details at length. Her eyes filled with tears as she said, “It’s been 20 years and, it’s like, I guess it never quits hurting.”
While Reba wasn’t sure at the time how she was going to go on, she learned how resilient she is, and also learned how close the country music family is. Friends like Vince Gill offered to go on the road with her, and Dolly Parton offered up her own band to finish out the tour.
Reba also admits that what she takes with her after that fateful day is to not go a day without telling those you care about just how much you love them, and “do act like this day could be your last one.”
Our thoughts remain with Reba, as well the families and friends of those incredible musicians.