Reba McEntire deeply appreciates the magnitude of loss and the depths of suffering. 1991 marked a turning point in history because it was the year the superstar of country music experienced an unfathomable tragedy. Tragically, an aircraft disaster during one of her performances claimed the lives of her trusted tour manager and seven beloved band members.
The heartbreaking tragedy happened on March 16, 1991, following a spellbinding performance by Reba McEntire and her band at a prestigious event in San Diego.
For their next concert, arrangements were made for the band members to take a flight from Brown Field Municipal Airport to Fort Wayne, Indiana.
As luck would have it, Reba, her then-husband and manager Narvel Blackstock, and her stylist Sandi Spika were left in San Diego for the night when the band and tour manager boarded the first plane.
Reba McEntire summoned the courage to describe what happened in a moving interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2012. The second plane took off without a hitch and arrived at its destination safely.
Tragically, only ten miles east of the airport, the first plane carrying the dearly loved people Reba held dear crashed, irrevocably affecting the lives of those left behind.
Reba somberly revealed to Oprah that “the plane’s wing struck a boulder on the edge of Otay Mountain, taking the lives of everyone on board.” When we got the news, Narvel approached our pilot and told him what had happened.
Narvel returned to the hotel room where Reba was waiting for news late at night, about two or three in the morning. As Reba looked for explanations, the tragedy weighed hard on the atmosphere. “One of the planes crashed,” Narvel said.
Reba asked how their pals were doing and felt a glimmer of hope. “Are they alright?” She was disappointed when Narvel’s reply dashed her hopes. He said, “I don’t think so,” causing a cloud of doubt to shroud them both.
Reba revealed their eagerness to learn all the specifics of the tragedy that had befallen their loved ones and captivated them. Her voice trembling with genuine emotion, she said, “Narvel traversed from one room to another, clutching a phone, desperately seeking answers.” “It’s been 20 years, but the sorrow never really goes away”, she apologized. “However, I can picture that situation. Narvel was pacing endlessly while engulfed in agony.
Reba McEntire took comfort in her close friends’ unflinching support during this intense sadness, including Vince Gill and Dolly Parton. In the wake of the tragedy, these kind hearts offered their bands the chance to finish the tour. Reba politely declined their kind offers, though.
Instead, she started a personal recovery journey and put all her heart and soul into her subsequent album, “For My Broken Heart.” The record was a heartfelt remembrance of the bandmates she had lost, displaying her unwavering love and paying tribute to their memory.
Interestingly, “For My Broken Heart” reached the heights of success, debuting at No. 1 on the prestigious Billboard Top Country Albums chart and selling an astounding four million copies.
Reba McEntire faithfully remembers those who died on the sad anniversary of the tragic incident every year. She uses social media to make sure their memory lives on. She created a touching memorial for her hordes of followers on Instagram in 2014 to commemorate the crash’s anniversary.
Then, in 2016, on the sad 25th anniversary of the tragedy, Reba set out on a tragic pilgrimage to San Diego, a city that would always hold a special place in her heart. She kindly shared this momentous journey through various social media channels with her devoted followers, giving them a window into her recovery.
Reba herself penned a heartfelt note in which she stated: “Today is the 25th anniversary of the plane crash. I returned to San Diego in November and took a helicopter to the scene of the tragic collision. I was overcome by the overpowering impression that people who have passed on know how much we miss them. My condolences and prayers are overflowing for all the families and friends affected by this tragedy.”