On This Day: Patsy Cline Releases Her Signature Hit ‘Crazy’ in 1961

by Clayton Edwards
(Photo by GAB Archive/Redferns via Getty Images)

Patsy Cline’s recording career only spanned eight years. However, she remains one of the most influential singers of the twentieth century. Several iconic country performers cite Cline as an influence and inspiration. Among those is Loretta Lynn, an iconic figure and country royalty in her own right.

The two were close friends before Cline’s tragic and untimely death in 1963. Additionally, Patsy opened new doors for country singers. She was among the first to cross over into the pop sphere and sample the lucrative success of the wider market. The country music world would look much different without her influence.

Patsy Cline had six top-ten hits on the Billboard country singles chart. Two of those hits went to the top of the charts. The first to reach number one was “I Fall to Pieces” which hit the airwaves in January of 1961. To follow the success of her first chart-topper, Cline released “Crazy” on October 16 of the same year. It peaked at number 2 on the country chart and 9 on the pop chart.

Today, both of those songs are considered Patsy Cline’s signature tunes. To celebrate the 60th anniversary of “Crazy” we’re going to look back at some of the history behind the song. First, though, let’s turn up the volume for one of the greatest voices this genre has ever known.

The Crazy Story Behind Patsy Cline’s Iconic Hit

“Crazy” combined two musical masters into one song. Patsy Cline’s voice is sweet and sorrowful. Her emotional vocal performance really puts the song over the top. Additionally, the song was expertly written. Willie Nelson penned the song earlier in the year and planned to have Billy Walker cut it. Walker recorded Nelson’s “Funny How Time Slips Away” but didn’t want “Crazy.”

Walker passed the song on to Patsy Cline, but she didn’t want it, according to American Songwriter. In fact, she wanted to cut a version of “Funny How Time Slips Away” but Walker kept that one for himself. In the end, songwriter Hank Cochran pitched “Crazy” to Cline’s producer Owen Bradley. He heard something in the song that Patsy didn’t and convinced her to record it.

In August of 1961, Cline went into the legendary Quonset Hut Studio to record the track. After a four-hour studio session, Patsy Cline still couldn’t get the song down. However, Bradley and a solid band of Nashville session musicians came up with the gorgeous arrangement that we all know and love today. Cline came back on September 15 and laid down the vocals for the track.

“Crazy” peaked at number 2 on the country chart. However, the chart didn’t accurately measure the success of the song. Today, it’s a standard and has been recorded by countless artists in several different genres. The song helped to solidify Patsy Cline’s success and brought Willie Nelson to the forefront as a skilled songwriter.