The Life and Times of Patsy Cline

Author: Margaret Jones
Foreword by Loretta Lynn
The acclaimed biography of the revered country star
Paper – $24.95
Publication Date
Paperback: 10/24/2023
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About the Book

The riveting and heart-wrenching story of country music diva Patsy Cline, from her against-all-odds rise from poverty and a strange, lonely childhood shrouded in secrecy, to her tragic and untimely death at the age of thirty when, ironically, she had finally achieved the triumph she had sought all her life.

About the Author

Margaret Jones is a writer and editor whose stories on cultural figures have appeared in a variety of magazines and newspapers, and whose essays and articles have been published in several anthologies, including The Encyclopedia of Country Music compiled by the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum (Oxford University Press). She is the editor of over a hundred books, both fiction and nonfiction, on subjects ranging from metaphysics and the perennial wisdom traditions, shamanism, holistic and traditional healing, to history and cultural affairs. Her website is


"This fine biography of country music star Patsy Cline begins with a compelling and telling image. It’s May 1957. Twenty-five-year-old Patsy is riding on the top of the backseat of a red Oldsmobile convertible in the Apple Blossom Festival parade in her hometown of Winchester, Va. . . Margaret Jones has relied heavily on personal interviews—lots and lots of direct quotes here—to produce this comprehensive biography of country music’s first ‘crossover’ superstar. The result is a chatty, intimate, compulsively readable picture of not only the tragic Patsy, but also of those who knew her and the world which produced her and her music. The book is long on atmosphere and fact." --Washington Post Book World

"Author Margaret Jones is a virtual unknown, but her book The Life and Times of Patsy Cline deserves to be the definitive work on the subject. Jones has dug deeper, done more interviews, uncovered more facts, and gotten more history correct than nearly any book on the market today. Richly detailed. . . . it succeeds both as biography and as a research work on country music of the ‘50s and early ‘60s. . . . Jones uses her own exhaustive interviews and research to create one of the best country music biographies of all." --Country Music Magazine

"Now Margaret Jones has written a definitive chronology of Cline’s short life that reads as it was lived, like the melodramatic but hopelessly ‘true’ lyrics typical of a Nashville ballad: Tough girl from the other side of the tracks, abandoned by a feckless (and possibly incestuous) father, despised and ignored in her hometown of Winchester, Va., has the voice of pure gold—and knows how to use it. . . . Meticulously researched—Jones interviewed and quotes everyone from husbands to colleagues to fans—The Life and Times of Patsy Cline presents a multisided portrait of its subject, a woman about whose secret self few people seem to be in agreement. . . . The good news. . . . is that the book will make you want to re-listen to Cline’s work." --Los Angeles Times

"Cline has never before been the subject of an unflinching, unbiased and, most important, Nashville-apolitical biography. Author Margaret Jones’ The Life and Times of Patsy Cline is the first portrait of the hillbilly torch singer with real fur on it—the book offers a depth, breadth and height of reality that is both fascinating and repellent. . . . Jones . . . neither revels in nor strays from the dirt. The emerging picture of Patsy Cline is often shockingly squalid, violent and sorrowful. Though her battles with her second husband, Charlie Dick, are old hat, the truth of Cline’s poverty-stricken, unstable life is a real surprise. For all she reveals, though, Jones exhibits admirable restraint. No dime-store psychology here: the revelations of Cline suffering incest at her father’s hand are told mostly through blunt first-person recollections from confidantes like June Carter and Loretta Lynn. Coddling the reader with only a bare minimum of sociopolitical subtext and hot jargon, Jones simply sets the stage for a read-between-the-lines demonstration of the trauma and the devastating effect that her abuse would later have on Cline and her attitude toward sex, pregnancy, and children—a strangely ambivalent, manipulative and particularly ugly part of the singer’s life. . . .“Jones roars through a memorable series of country music scenes, going inside flamboyant promoter Connie B. Gay’s Washington, D.C. stable; taking a wild trip down the road with the Johnny Cash show; venturing into Nashville recording sessions, songwriting collaborations and after-hours living-room ‘guitar pulls.’ Her account of Decca Records executive Paul Cohen’s arrival in (and subsequent transformation of) Nashville is entertaining, informative and a valuable addition to our understanding of how Music City USA became a financial behemoth. . . . This is the stuff Nashville’s arbiters don’t want you to hear—how a New York Jew came in and, by example, got the town’s entire ball rolling." --LA Weekly

"Cline comes strutting out of the pages of Jones’ book, slaps the reader on the back with a ‘Hey, Hoss’ and a smile. Her salty language was as much a part of her as was her music. . . . If you close your eyes in between chapters, you can almost hear the music." --Nashville Banner

"Patsy Cline, who died in 1963 in an airplane crash at age 30, is still—and increasingly, it seems—the most respected female country singer dead or alive. She had the voice, of course, big and pure, but more than that she was everything we now think the ideal woman should be: determined, independent, hard-driving, straight-talking and tough. As it happened, she was also everything we regret: a sucker for bounders, a boozer, a pill popper and crash diet veteran with, as it might be put, low self-esteem. The story of her life as told here details these contradictions and provides an illuminating look at the music business in its crucial years, the late ‘50s and early ‘60s.… Patsy did just fine spitting out what bugged her in concrete matters, complaining, for instance, that the standard ‘girl singer’ ruffled attire of the mid ‘50s made her look like a ‘damn butterfly.’ But when it came to larger things, though she was as tormented as the next person, she hadn’t the wherewithal to put it into words. In the end, her biography convinces one of her essential ordinariness,an ordinariness offset only somewhat by gargantuan will and generosity." --Boston Globe

"Cline’s career as a star was very short—six years by generous count—but she was a professional singer for nearly half of her 30-year-life. And though her songs were written by others, they often reflected the drama that enveloped her. That drama is the substance of The Life and Times of Patsy Cline, a thoughtful biography written by Margaret Jones. . . . Jones constructs her picture of the singer from hundreds of interviews, as well as from other books and memoirs. It’s a painstaking job, made more difficult by the several faces Cline presented to her contemporaries—and by the different spirits she carried inside herself. . . . Nor does Jones sensationalize her material. The facts, right up to the tragic plane crash that killed her, are quite dramatic enough, and Cline, clearly a person who required a certain level of angst in her life, could generate her own emotional steam bath when necessary. . . . The Life and Times of Patsy Cline, for all its tragic ending, is in many ways an inspiring book, the honestly told story of a supremely talented woman who subordinated almost everything to her art." --Santa Barbara News Press

"[Patsy’s] story is told candidly but lovingly in Margaret Jones’ exhaustively researched biography. . . . Although Jones is skilled at conjuring up the hard-living lot of country musicians on the road in the ‘50s and ‘60s (don’t miss the hilarious story of how Patsy accidentally turned sweet June Carter on to amphetamines), the single most compelling tale in the book is of the torturous 1961 session that produced her signature tune, Willie Nelson’s ‘Crazy.’ Recovering from a near-fatal car accident, embroiled in a hopeless marriage, afraid her career might be over, Cline returned again and again to this most despairing of American standards. ‘It may have been the most dangerous moment of her recording career, and, from an emotional standpoint, her life,’ writes Jones." --Baltimore City Paper

"The movie Sweet Dreams a few years ago presented the outlines of Patsy’s life, and now writer Margaret Jones fleshes out those outlines with a biography, The Life and Times of Patsy Cline. . . . This outstanding biography could be the story of many singing stars who made it to the top from gigs in beer halls and honky-tonks. The difference here is that Patsy Cline had an assertive personality that gave her music depth and verve. Her climb to fame took place when Nashville and country music began to blossom into full flower; the story of her life is sprinkled with names that now adorn country music’s Hall of Fame." --Richmond Times-Dispatch

"The Life and Times of Patsy Cline is not only the story of a remarkable woman and her triumphs and tragedies, but is also a history of country music as an art form and as an industry. Compelling, candid, and ultimately readable, it is a fascinating portrait of this beloved vocalist. . . . It will certainly stand as the definitive biography." --Brooklyn After Dark

"Jones does the job of a real reporter throughout The Life and Times of Patsy Cline. The book, originally published in 1994 and recently released in a new edition by the Country Music Foundation Press, provides deep background about Cline’s rise from rural Virginia — where she grew up in the hamlet of Gore before settling with her family in the comparative metropolis of Winchester — to the kind of stardom that landed her on the stage of The Grand Ole Opry. " --Chapter 16