Reba McEntire understands the depths of grief and the extent of loss. The year 1991 was a watershed in the history of country music because it was the year of an unbelievable tragedy for a celebrity. Sadly, her dependable tour manager and seven cherished band members perished in an airplane crash during one of her concerts.
On March 16, 1991, after a riveting performance by Reba McEntire and her band at a prominent event in San Diego, the tragic occurrence occurred.
The band members were scheduled to fly from Brown Field Municipal Airport to Fort Wayne, Indiana, for their next show.
As fortune would have it, the band and tour manager boarded the first jet, leaving Reba, her stylist Sandi Spika, and her then-husband and manager Narvel Blackstock overnight in San Diego.
Reba McEntire had the bravery to talk about what transpired in a poignant 2012 interview with Oprah Winfrey. The second aircraft took off without incident and reached its target without incident.
Sadly, the first plane transporting the people Reba loved and cared for crashed barely ten miles east of the airport, permanently altering the lives of those who were left behind.
“The plane’s wing struck a boulder on the edge of Otay Mountain, taking the lives of everyone on board,” Reba somberly disclosed to Oprah. Narvel addressed our pilot and informed him of the situation as soon as we received the news.
Late at night, about two or three in the morning, Narvel went back to the hotel room where Reba was waiting for news. The tragedy weighed heavily on the air as Reba searched for answers. Narvel stated, “One of the planes crashed.”
A ray of optimism appeared when Reba inquired about their friends’ well-being. “Are they okay?” Her aspirations were dashed by Narvel’s remark, which disappointed her. “I don’t think so,” he replied, casting a shadow of doubt over the two of them.
Reba attracted them and demonstrated their want to know every detail of the catastrophe that had befallen their loved ones. “Narvel traversed from one room to another, clutching a phone, desperately seeking answers,” she added, her voice quivering with real anguish. “The sadness never truly goes away, even after 20 years,” she apologized. But I can imagine such circumstance. Narvel was in excruciating pain and was pacing nonstop.
Reba McEntire found solace in the unwavering support of her close friends, Dolly Parton and Vince Gill, during this period of extreme suffering. Following the tragedy, these generous souls extended an invitation to their bands to complete the tour. But Reba graciously turned down their nice offers.
Rather, she embarked on a personal healing process and poured her entire being into her follow-up album, “For My Broken Heart.” The album was a loving homage to her late bandmates, honoring their memory and a genuine remembering of them.
Interestingly, “For My Broken Heart” achieved unprecedented popularity, selling an incredible four million copies and entering at No. 1 on the esteemed Billboard Top Country Albums chart.
Every year on the melancholy anniversary of the horrific event, Reba McEntire dutifully honors the memory of those who passed away. To ensure that their memory endures, she makes use of social media. In 2014, she made a heartfelt tribute for her throngs of Instagram followers to mark the anniversary of the disaster.
Then, on the melancholic 25th anniversary of the catastrophe in 2016, Reba embarked on a terrible journey to San Diego, a city she would always cherish. She graciously provided her passionate followers with a glimpse into her recuperation by sharing this historic journey with them via a variety of social media platforms.
In a heartbreaking statement, Reba wrote: “Today marks the 25th anniversary of the plane crash.” In November, I went back to San Diego and flew in a helicopter to the location of the horrific crash. The overwhelming feeling that those who have departed realize how much we miss them struck me. I am bursting with sympathy and prayers for all the friends and families impacted by this tragedy.