Thirty Years After Plane Crash, Reba McEntire Still Credits Kenny Rogers with Saving Her

Reba McEntire wasn’t on the plane. Neither was Kenny Rogers. But to this day, she credits Rogers with saving her in the aftermath of the tragic plane crash in 1991.

The chartered jet crashed in San Diego on the morning of March 16, 1991, after McEntire’s performance at a private corporate event. Eight members of her band died that day: Chris Austin, Kirk Cappello, Joey Cigainero, Paula Kaye Evans, Jim Hammon, Terry Jackson, Anthony Saputo, and Michael Thomas along with the pilot and co-pilot.

“Kenny saved my sanity in ’91 when he asked me to come do The Gambler movie. I was still in a state of disbelief and not knowing what I’m gonna do moving forward after the plane crash,” McEntire said about her friend who died earlier this year. “I miss him so much, he’s such a special person and a big-hearted giver.”

The TV movie The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw starred Rogers as Brady Hawkes and McEntire as Burgundy Jones.

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The two country singers went on to have a lasting friendship that led to music collaborations and more. When McEntire released her first music after the crash, with her 1991 For My Broken Heart , she called it a form of healing for all our broken hearts.

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Alison makes her living loving country music. She’s based in Chicago, but she’s always leaving her heart in Nashville.

@alisonbonaguro