Remembering Reba McEntire’s Band Members: Honoring Their Lives

Reba McEntire, the beloved country superstar, knows all too well the pain of loss. In 1991, tragedy struck when seven members of her band and her tour manager lost their lives in a devastating aircraft crash during a concert.

March 16, 1991, marked a fateful day as Reba and her band performed at a private event in San Diego. With two planes awaiting them at the Brown Field Municipal Airport, the plan was to transport the band members to their next gig in Fort Wayne, Ind.

As the rest of the band and tour manager departed, Reba, her then-husband and manager Narvel Blackstock, and her stylist Sandi Spika stayed behind in San Diego for the night. Little did they know the heartbreaking turn events were about to take.

In a poignant interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2012, Reba shared the heart-wrenching details of what occurred next. The second plane took off safely and landed at its destination, but tragedy struck the first jet, crashing just 10 miles east of the airport.

“The plane’s wing clipped a boulder on the edge of Otay Mountain, claiming the lives of everyone aboard,” Reba tearfully recounted to Oprah. “When we received the news, Narvel approached our pilot and relayed the devastating information.”

“Narvel returned to the hotel room where I was, late into the night, and shared the news that one of the planes had crashed,” Reba recalled. “I asked him, ‘Are they OK?’ He replied with uncertainty, ‘I don’t think so.’ The uncertainty was unbearable.”

According to Reba, they anxiously awaited more details about the tragic event. “Narvel went from room to room with a phone, making calls…” she paused, her voice trembling. “I’m sorry—it’s been 20 years, but the pain never truly goes away,” she added. “But I can still see that moment—the image of Narvel pacing back and forth.”

In the face of unimaginable grief, compassionate friends like Vince Gill and Dolly Parton offered their bands to help Reba finish the tour. However, Reba declined and chose to honor her fallen band members with her next album, For My Broken Heart. The album, dedicated to those she lost, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and sold over four million copies.

Every year, on the anniversary of the tragedy, Reba faithfully pays tribute to those who lost their lives that day. In 2014, she took to Instagram to commemorate the crash anniversary. Then, on the 25th anniversary in 2016, she embarked on a poignant trip to San Diego and shared her journey with her devoted fans on social media.

Reba wrote, “Today marks the 25th anniversary of the plane accident. Last year in November, I returned to San Diego and took a helicopter to the crash site. I believe they know how much we miss them. My deepest condolences and prayers go out to all the families and friends affected.”

Let us join Reba McEntire in remembering the lives of her band members and honor their lasting legacy.

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