The day the music died

Buddy Holly on the Arthur Murray Dance Party 12/29/57

was half a century ago today.

Just after 1:00 a.m. local time on February 3, 1959, a single engine Beechcraft Bonanza B35, registration N3794N, flying from Clear Lake, Iowa, which wasn’t originally on the tour but a late addition to Fargo North Dakota, for next date on the tour at Moorhead, Minnesota, crashed 5 miles northwest of the airport.

On board was the pilot Roger Peterson (21 years old) along with Buddy Holly (22), Ritchie Valens (17), and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson (28). All four died.

The plane could only carry three passengers and was originally chartered by Holly to take just him and his band Tommy Allsup and Waylon Jennings.

Ritchie Valens was signing autographs after the show when Allsup told him it was time to leave the young star begged for a seat on the plane so Allsup took out a 50 cent piece and the two tossed for the seat. Allsup “lost”.

“The Big Booper” had developed flu during the tour they were on and so asked Jennings for his seat on the plane. Jennings agreed, when Buddy heard of this he said, “Well, I hope your ol’ bus freezes up.” Jennings replied, “Well, I hope your ol’ plane crashes.” Of course this was just a piece of friendly banter said in the moment but it has haunted Waylon Jennings for the rest of his life.

Buddy Holly, with his horned rim glasses, glottal stop singing and sunburst Fender Strat became in a very short period of time – from “That’ll Be the Day” released in May ’57 to his death in Feb ’59 it’s only 18 months – one of the most influential rock and or roll musicians ever. From the Beatles, The Rolling Stones to Clapton and Elton John they all cite Buddy as having a major impact on them.

Yeah I shouldn’t over look the other two artists who passed that day either. Hellooo baby…

A long, long time ago…
I can still remember
How that music used to make me smile.
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And, maybe, they’d be happy for a while.

But February made me shiver
With every paper I’d deliver.
Bad news on the doorstep;
I couldn’t take one more step.

I can’t remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride,
But something touched me deep inside
The day the music died. Don McLean – American Pie

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