Reba McEntire has experienced loss and grief firsthand. The country superstar died in a horrific plane crash in 1991, along with her tour manager and seven other band members.
On March 16, 1991, the diva and her band had a private concert in San Diego, and two planes were ready at Brown Field Municipal Airport to transport the band members to Fort Wayne, Indiana, where they would play the following concert on their itinerary. When McEntire, her then-husband and manager Narvel Blackstock, and her stylist Sandi Spika spent the night in San Diego, the band members and tour manager took off on a flight.
In a tearjerking interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2012, McEntire would describe what happened next. The first flight to leave met with disaster barely ten miles east of the airport, while the second aircraft took off and traveled without incident to its destination.
McEntire told Oprah that the plane’s wing tip collided with a boulder on the edge of Otay Mountain, killing everyone inside. “Narvel went to meet with our pilot when we were informed, and he explained what had occurred. It was around two or three in the morning when Narvel returned to the hotel room where I was staying and informed me that one of the planes had crashed. I immediately asked, “Are they OK? I don’t think so, he said. But you’re not sure, I questioned. He responded, “I don’t believe so.
They frantically sought out information about the catastrophe, as McEntire recalled.
She paused as tears welled in her eyes and continued, “Narvel was going room to room with a phone and phoning…” I’m sorry, but even after 20 years, she said, “I don’t think it ever stops hurting.” I can see that room, though. Narvel is moving back and forth, as I can see.
McEntire turned down offers from friends like Vince Gill and Dolly Parton to finish her tour with their own bands. For My Broken Heart, the album she released after losing her bandmates, was a dedication to them. It debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and went on to sell four million copies.
On the anniversary of the accident, McEntire usually pays tribute to those who perished on that day. She used Instagram to commemorate the crash anniversary in 2014, and on the tragedy’s 25th anniversary in 2016, she took a special trip to San Diego and shared it with her online followers.
The anniversary of the plane disaster is today, according to McEntire. I returned to San Diego in November of last year and flew up to the crash site. They must be aware of how much we still miss them, I have a gut feeling. All the families and friends have my love and prayers.