The Day The Music Died

February 3, 1959. It remains a significant date among rock music fans: the first accidental premature deaths of its stars in the still new style when a single-engine Beechcraft 35 Bonanza plane crashed not long after take-off and took the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson.

Holly hired the plane in Clear Lake, Iowa to get to the next stop in Moorhead, MN, and hopefully catch some needed sleep and do his laundry. The “Winter Dance Party” tour of the Midwest was certainly not a party for the performers. It was 24 shows in as many nights and long rides, sometimes overnight, in a cold, uncomfortable and primitive bus.

Holly originally figured his band members would take the two other seats in the four-person plane. Holly’s bassist was a friend and talented young artist in his own right from Lubbock, TX: Waylon Jennings. He let Richardson, who was suffering from the flu, have his place. It was a decision that haunted Jennings for the rest of his life.

Holly’s guitarist Tommy Allsup tossed a coin with Ritchie Valens for the other seat. Valens “won” the toss, so to speak.

The plane went down soon after taking off at about half-past midnight, crashing into a cornfield some seven miles from the runway. All three performers were thrown from the wreckage; pilot Roger Peterson died inside it. The cause was said to be spatial disorientation. Valens was just 17 years old; the “Big Bopper” was 28. Holly was 22.

Of course the music did not actually die sixty-five years ago today, but the sadness felt by the deaths of the three singers still lingers to this day. No one knows how much more music they would have given us but for today, let’s look back on a few of the songs they did leave … with an ending from Don McLean you had to know was coming.

Play button is on the left … Volume slider is on the right

The Day The Music Died

Comments (12)

  1. Rosa-Lee Gould

    Their music lives on. Can’t even imagine the music in Heaven.
    Ted & I listened.

    Reply
    1. Ray (Post author)

      Thank you, Lee & Ted
      Lovely comments.

      Reply
  2. Penny S Capron

    Such a sad day, lives and talent cut short but their music and legacy lives on!
    XXOO

    Reply
    1. Ray (Post author)

      Thanks, Penny.
      So much talent lost, that’s for sure!

      Reply
  3. Mary Helen Hawthorne

    Always wondered what might have been, but this tragic loss of young musicians that were just making it big because they were changing the sound of current music was shocking
    Don McLean’s tribute is such a great piece, and his only really popular song

    Reply
    1. Ray (Post author)

      Well said, Mary Helen, although I have to disagree (slightly) with you regarding Don McLean. I think “Vincent” ranks right up there as far as popular songs go. It topped the UK Singles chart and reached 12 in the U.S.

      Reply
  4. Jim

    Great mix. Sad memory, but great music that lives on!

    Reply
    1. Ray (Post author)

      Thank you, Jim.
      I often wonder just how big Buddy would have become over the years. He was such an incredible talent.

      Reply
  5. Nancy Garbati

    As sad as this day is every year, I always enjoyed the medley. Thanks <3

    Reply
    1. Ray (Post author)

      Thank you, Nancy ❤️

      Reply
  6. Fred

    Thank you Ray this day always makes me wonder how todays music would be if they were able to still have made more music!! They were all so talented!! Makes me sad but there music is still alive thanks to you and others!! Loved your History at the beginning!!
    Love ya

    Reply
    1. Ray (Post author)

      Thank you, Fred!
      Too many radio stations (the one in Springfield, VT being one of them) have shoved artists like Buddy into a dark hole. That will never happen on this site.
      Thank you for your very kind words.
      Love ya

      Reply

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