Reba McEntire Says Her Band and Crew's Death in a Plane Crash Made Her 'Focus on Day by Day'

In March 1991, Reba McEntire's tour manager and seven members of her band were killed in a plane crash near San Diego, California, after their private jet crashed into the side of a mountain following one of McEntire's shows. During an appearance on I Miss…90s Country Radio with Nick Hoffman on Apple Music Country, the country legend reflected on the tragedy, sharing that it caused her to look at things differently.

"I didn't know if it was God's way of jerking my chain, saying slow down," McEntire 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 afterwards, 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."

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Killed in the crash were 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. McEntire performed for the first time after the tragedy shortly after it happened, and she shared that getting back on stage was difficult.

"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. "That first time on stage though was hard. I mean I couldn't turn around."


The Oklahoma native remembers her friends every year on social media on the anniversary of the crash, and this year she shared black and white photos of her late friends. "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," she wrote. "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."