50 Years Ago Today - Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper
50 Years Ago Today, February, 3, 1959, Buddy Holly (age 22), Ritchie Valens (age 17), and The Big Bopper (J.P. Richardson, Jr., age 28) died in a small-plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa. In Don McLean's 1971 song "American Pie", he would call this 'The Day the Music Died'.
The three young rock and roll musicians were leaving their gig at The Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa (see photo of the ballroom below), which was part of "The Winter Dance Party." They were heading to the next stop in the tour, Moorhead, Minnesota. The plane crashed soon after take off due to a combination of poor weather conditions and pilot error. The pilot, Roger Peterson, also died in the crash. He was only 21 years old and was not rated for night-time flight.
The small plane would only hold three passengers, in addition to the pilot. Waylon Jennings had originally planned to fly, but gave up his seat on the plane to Richardson, who had the flu. Guitarist Tommy Allsup had also planned to fly, but lost his seat in a coin toss to Valens who had never flown in a small plane before and wanted to experience it.
We can only wonder what music the three artists would have written and recorded had they lived to be a more reasonable age.
The Day the Music Died on Wikipedia