Reba McEntire is well aware of the scope of the tragedy and the depths of the grief. 1991 was a watershed year in history because it saw the incomprehensible tragedy of the country music superstar. Tragically, her dependable tour manager and seven cherished band members perished in an aviation accident during one of her performances.
Following a dazzling performance by Reba McEntire and her band at a prominent event in San Diego on March 16, 1991, the tragic incident took place.
The band members were scheduled to fly from Brown Field Municipal Airport to Fort Wayne, Indiana for their upcoming performance.
As fate would have it, the band and tour manager boarded the first jet while Reba, her then-husband and manager Narvel Blackstock, and her stylist Sandi Spika were left in San Diego for the night.
In an emotional interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2012, Reba McEntire mustered the fortitude to reveal what transpired. Without a hitch, the second aircraft took off and made it to its destination without incident.
Tragically, the first plane transporting the people Reba held dear crashed ten miles east of the airport, forever altering the lives of those who were left behind.
Reba somberly told Oprah that “the plane’s wing struck a boulder on the edge of Otay Mountain, taking the lives of everyone on board.” Narvel approached our pilot and relayed the news to him as soon as we learned it.
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 reported that “one of the planes crashed.”
Reba inquired about their friends and experienced a glimpse of hope. “Are they okay?” When Narvel’s response destroyed her dreams, she was disappointed. He stated, “I don’t think so,” which led to uncertainty surrounding them both.
They were mesmerized by Reba as she conveyed their want to know every detail of the catastrophe that had befallen their loved ones. She remarked, in a voice vibrating with genuine passion, “Narvel traversed from one room to another, clutching a phone, desperately seeking answers.” She apologized, “I know it’s been 20 years, but the pain never really goes away.” But I can see that circumstance. Narvel was writhing in misery and pacing incessantly.
During this period of extreme loss, Reba McEntire found solace in the unwavering support of her close friends, especially Vince Gill and Dolly Parton. These generous people allowed their bands to complete the tour in the wake of the tragedy. However, Reba graciously declined their nice offers.
Instead, she began her own process of healing and poured her heart and soul into her succeeding album, “For My Broken Heart.” The song was a moving homage to the bandmates she had lost, showing her unshakable love for them and honoring their memory.
Interesting enough, “For My Broken Heart” was a huge hit, arriving at No. 1 on the esteemed Billboard Top Country Albums chart and selling a staggering four million copies.
Every year on the somber anniversary of the horrible event, Reba McEntire sincerely honors those who passed away. She ensures that their memory endures by using social media. In 2014, she produced a moving memorial for her massive Instagram following to honor the crash’s anniversary.
After that, Reba embarked on a terrible pilgrimage to San Diego, a city that would always hold a particular place in her heart, in 2016, on the sad 25th anniversary of the disaster. She graciously provided her devoted followers with a window into this historic trip through various social media platforms, allowing them to monitor her recuperation.
In a touching letter she sent, Reba noted: “Today marks the 25th anniversary of the plane tragedy. In November, I came back to San Diego and flew to the scene of the sad incident. I had the overwhelming sense that those who have passed on are aware of how much we miss them. For all the families and friends impacted by this tragedy, please accept my heartfelt sympathies and sincere prayers.