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Fifty years ago thisFifty years ago, on Sunday, March 3, 1963, Lloyd “Cowboy” Copas shouldn’t have been crying.

Things were, after all, going well. Copas, who burst onto the country scene with four consecutive Top 10 hits in the 1940s, wound up on the cover of “Billboard” magazine. After that, he endured an eight-year slide in popularity before storming back in 1960 with a 12-week No. 1 hit called “Alabam,” a song that restored his standing as a major country star.

That Sunday, the 49-year-old Copas was in Kansas City, Kan., with his friends, playing three shows to raise money for the family of a disc jockey named Jack Call, who had died in a car wreck. For $1.50, people could see and hear Copas, Patsy Cline, Hawkshaw Hawkins, George Jones, Billy Walker, Georgie Riddle, Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper, George McCormick and others as they sang their hits.

It wasn’t self-pity or depression that brought the Cowboy to tears; it was a post-show meeting with a longtime fan, a woman with cancer who told him that she wasn’t long for this earth. Copas introduced the woman to Riddle, and when she walked away, Riddle said, the singing star grew emotional.

“He said to me, ‘Poor thing, she only has six months to live,’ ” Riddle says. “It was ironic. Because Copas had much less time than that.” more