Reba McEntire Opens Up About Death of Band Members in Plane Crash: ‘Things Happen for a Reason’

by Emily Morgan

In March of 1991, Reba McEntire would face a tragedy she’d never forget when she lost her tour manager and seven of her band members in a plane crash. 

On March 16th of that year, nothing would ever be the same for Reba McEntire after their private jet crashed into the side of a California mountain following one of her shows. Sadly, McEntire wasn’t informed of the fateful crash until the next day. Upon learning of the tragedy, McEntire and her husband, Narvel Blackstock, flew to Nashville. 

“When we were notified, Narvel went and met with our pilot, and he told us what had happened,” Reba McEntire said. “And Narvel came back to the hotel room where I was. It was two or three o’clock in the morning and he said one of the planes had crashed. I said, ‘Are they okay?’ He said, ‘I don’t think so.’ I said, ‘But you’re not sure?’ He said, ‘I don’t think so.'”

Recently, the country icon reflected on the horrific incident during an appearance on I Miss…90s Country Radio with Nick Hoffman on Apple Music Country, revealing that it caused her to look at her life differently.

“I didn’t know if it was God’s way of jerking my chain, saying slow down,” the 66-year-old said. “I’m not going to put that on him. It just happened. I don’t know why. Things happen for a reason. That’s one of the questions I’m asking when I get up there. But afterward, it made us really focus on day by day, instead of what are we going to do tomorrow? What are we going to do next year? Don’t even think about the past. Don’t even think about the future. Focus on the day that you have and enjoy it while you have it.”

Tragedy Changes Reba McEntire’s Outlook on Life

The lives lost in the crash included Reba McEntire’s tour manager Jim Hammon, keyboardist and bandleader Kirk Cappello, fellow keyboardist Joey Cigainero, drummer Tony Saputo, guitarists Michael Thomas and Chris Austin, bassist Terry Jackson and backup singer Paula Kaye Evans. 

The Oklahoma native performed for the first time soon after it happened. At the time, she was mourning a horrific loss and shared that getting back on stage was challenging.

“I did it for them, but I still had two band members and crew to think of, an organization that we had to move forward,” she recalled of the moment. “That first time on stage though was hard. I mean I couldn’t turn around.”

Reba McEntire pays tribute to her late friends every year on the anniversary of the crash. This year, she shared black and white photos of her former crew. 

“No matter how long ago a tragedy happened and no matter how much time goes by after losing people we love…the anniversaries of losing them still sting and memories come rushing in,” Reba McEntire wrote in the emotional post.

“Praying for peace today along with all the families of Chris Austin, Kirk Cappello, Joey Cigainero, Paula Kaye Evans, Jim Hammon, Terry Jackson, Tony Saputo and Michael Thomas.”