Cowboy Copas – Alabam’

16th July 2023 · 1960, 1960s, Country, Music

For some musicians, a tragic death elevates a mediocre career to legendary status. But it didn’t work out that way for Cowboy Copas.

Cowboy Copas was a popular honky-tonk singer in the late 1940s but had disappeared from view when he died, aged 50, in the 1963 in the plane crash that also killed Patsy Cline and Hawkshaw Hawkins.

Unlike Patsy, but a lot like Hawkins, Copas’s music failed to benefit from the tragedy – beyond a mawkish posthumous single cringingly called Goodbye Kisses.

This rockabilly-ish number, Alabam’, was recorded in 1960 and was the song that brought him back to the charts after almost a decade, prompting a revival that was soon to be cruelly cut short.

Lloyd Estel Copas was born in Ohio in 1913, dropped out of school at the age of 14, and began playing fiddle in local string bands. On a dare, he travelled to Cincinnati to enter a contest – and wound up performing on radio shows there.

In 1943 he was invited to replace Eddy Arnold as the vocalist for Pee Wee King’s Golden West Cowboys at the Grand Ole Opry and his debut single, Filipino Baby, was an immediate hit in 1946.

A string of Top 20 singles followed, but his career began to wane as the next decade wore on, until he recorded this song in 1960. It became the biggest hit of his career, topping the country charts for three whole months.

It was only a year and a half after his last two hits, Flat Top and Signed, Sealed And Delivered, a remake of his early hit from 1947, that Copas was returning to Nashville from a benefit show in Kansas City when the private plane went down, killing him, Patsy Cline, Hawkshaw Hawkins, and Copas’ son-in-law, pilot Randy Hughes.

His final single, a syrupy string-drenched song called Goodbye Kisses, hit the Top 15 one month after his death.