Vintage Video: Reba McEntire's Manager and Band Members Killed in Plane Crash (1991)

by VVN Music

It was 26 years ago today, on March 16, 1991, that Reba McEntire's manager, seven members of her band and two pilots were killed in a small plane crash near San Diego, CA.

McEntire had played a private show for IBM executives on the night of March 15. After the show, Reba, her husband Narvel Blackstock and her stylist, Sandy Spika, decided to stay behind at a hotel so that McEntire could get a good nights sleep because she was battling bronchitis. The rest of her management, band and crew, left to fly to her next show in Ft. Wayne, IN.

The first plane to take off was a charter jet which left the airport at around 1:45 AM. It had reached an altitude of 3,572 feet before crashing into the side of Otay Mountain. Reports said there was poor visibility near the mountain but not bad enough that it should have hampered flying.

A second plane, with the rest of the band, took off minutes later and avoided the mountain and the pilots of that plane only knew there was trouble when they lost contact with the first plane's pilots.

Killed on the plane:
  • Jim Hammon (tour manager)
  • Kirk Cappello (music director and keyboards)
  • Chris Austin (fiddle, guitar)
  • Joey Cigainero (keyboards)
  • Paula Kaye Evans (background vocals)
  • Terry Jackson (bass)
  • Tony Saputo (drums)
  • Michael Thomas (guitar)
Reba, her husband and her stylist were woken up soon after the crash became known to be told of the incident. McEntire flew to Nashville the next day to be with family members. 

On October 1, 1991, six and a half months after the crash, McEntire release the album For My Broken Heart which was dedicated to the lives lost in the crash. The album went on to be the biggest of her career, going four-times platinum (sales of over 4 million units).

Reba released four singles from the album, the title song (1991 / #1 Country), Is There Life Out There (1992 / #1 Country), The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia (1992 / #12 Country) and The Greatest Man I Never Knew (1992 / #3 Country).

Earlier today, McEntire posted a tribute on her social media:

For My Broken Heart from the 1991 CMA Awards.

Is There Life Out There from the program Hot Country Nights.

The official video for If I Had Only Known.

In 2011, Reba posted this tribute to those who lost their lives in the crash.

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