Reba McEntire Didn't Know If She Was 'Going to Be Able to Continue' After Plane Crash Killed 8 Band Members

In 1991, eight members of the country legend's band and crew died in a plane crash leaving her concert in San Diego

Reba Mcentire
Reba McEntire. Photo: Jim Spellman/WireImage

Reba McEntire is opening up about the 1991 tragedy that turned her world upside down.

In this week's issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, the country icon, 67, recalls the pain she felt after learning that eight of her band and crew members had died in a plane crash leaving her concert in San Diego that March.

"I didn't know if I was going to be able to continue," McEntire says. "But it showed me how precious life is, and by the grace of God and my faith, I realized that they went on to a better place."

While McEntire — who was scheduled to depart on a different plane the morning after the crash —says she "never blamed God" for the loss, she does "have questions when I get up there."

"From that I learned that you need to take it one day at a time and be very grateful for the things that you have," she says. "Tell folks in your life how much you love and appreciate them."

McEntire went on to channel her grief into her album For My Broken Heart, which she released eight months after the crash and dedicated to her band members who died. It remains her highest-selling album to date.

Then, a month after For My Broken Heart's release, McEntire appeared alongside her late friend Kenny Rogers in the film The Gambler Returns, an experience which she has said "saved my sanity."

It was on that set, too, that McEntire — who went through a divorce from music manager Narvel Blackstock in 2015 — first met her now-boyfriend Rex Linn, though the two wouldn't start dating until after they reunited in January 2020.

"I shot an appearance on the TV show Young Sheldon, which he is on," McEntire says. "He said, 'Let's have dinner when you get through.' And I said, 'OK!' He made me laugh my butt off on our first date, which we didn't even know was a date."

Reba Mcentire
Rex Linn and Reba McEntire. Rex Linn Instagram

When the COVID-19 pandemic sent the country into lockdown later that year, McEntire and Linn, 65, were forced to spend time apart — but they made it work.

"He was in Los Angeles, and I was in Oklahoma because Mama had just died," McEntire explains. "We didn't get to see each other from March to June, but we'd talk over Zoom and FaceTime four to five times each day. We created a bond and an intimacy that was getting to know each other without being physical. We fell in love after being friends."

Now, McEntire says she and Linn — who play husband and wife on the latest season of the ABC drama Big Sky — are "pretty much inseparable."

"He's the love of my life," McEntire says. "We're a wonderful team."

For more of the lessons Reba McEntire has learned about life and love through the years, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Friday.

Related Articles