Reba McEntire Remembers Band Members on Plane Crash Anniversary: ‘Friends Forever’
Reba McEntire turned to social media to mark the 27th anniversary of the plane crash that killed seven of her band members and other members of her entourage on Friday (March 16), calling them "friends forever."
McEntire and her musical family suffered one of the most staggering tragedies in country music history on March 16, 1991. The superstar and her band had performed a private show in San Diego, and there were two planes waiting at Brown Field Municipal Airport to transport the band members to Fort Wayne, Ind., for their next scheduled gig. The band members and her tour manager flew on ahead while McEntire, her husband and manager Narvel Blackstock and her stylist, Sandi Spika, stayed in San Diego overnight.
It was a life and career-changing moment for McEntire, who would remember it tearfully in an interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2012. The second plane took off fine and went on, but disaster struck the first plane to depart shortly after takeoff, just ten miles east of the airport.
"The tip of the wing of the airplane hit a rock on the side of Otay Mountain, and it killed everyone on the plane," she recounted. “When we were notified, Narvel went and met with our pilot, and he told us what had happened. And Narvel came back to the hotel room where I was — it was two or three o’clock in the morning — and he said one of the planes had crashed, and I said, 'Are they OK?' He said, 'I don’t think so.' I said, 'But you’re not sure?' He said, 'I don’t think so.'"
They spent some anxious time trying to verify the details, McEntire recalled.
"Narvel was going room to room with a phone and calling ..." she began before tears filled her eyes, forcing her to compose herself. "I’m sorry — it’s been 20 years, but it’s just like — I don’t guess it ever quits hurting," she admitted. "But I can see that room. I can see Narvel walking back and forth."
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McEntire shared a throwback picture of her band on Instagram on Friday, writing, "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...seems like yesterday. #musicinheaven #lovealways."
Friends including Vince Gill and Dolly Parton would step forward to offer their own bands for McEntire to complete her tour, but she didn't want to do that. She dedicated her next album, For My Broken Heart, to those who had died, and she made an almost unthinkable comeback with the project, which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and went on to sell four million copies.
McEntire often honors the memory of the band members who died. In 2014 she turned to Instagram to mark the crash anniversary, and in 2016, on the 25th anniversary of the tragedy, she took a special trip to San Diego and shared it with fans via social media.
"Today is the 25th anniversary of the airplane crash," McEntire wrote. "I went back to San Diego Nov of last year and took a helicopter up to the crash site. I feel in my heart that they know we still miss them so much. My love and prayers to all the families and friends."
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