57 years ago today, on February 3rd, 1959, is The Day The Music Died. Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper died in a plane crash north of Clear Lake, Iowa.
While on their Winter Dance Party Tour, Buddy Holly chartered the plane for himself and Crickets band mates Tommy Allsup and Waylon Jennings. Buddy desperately wanted to avoid another long, cold trip on a converted school bus that kept losing heat during their ill-advised tour that was crisscrossing the Upper Midwest in the middle of a bad winter.
J.P. Richardson (The Big Bopper) was coming down with the flu and Waylon gave up his seat on the plane for him. Tommy Allsup decided to flip a coin with Ritchie Valens, who won after calling heads and took his seat.
The plane was headed for Moorhead, MN, but went down in field about five miles north of Clear Lake.
A sad note is that when Buddy learned that Waylon was not going to fly, he said in jest: “Well, I hope your ol’ bus freezes up.” Waylon responded: “Well, I hope your ol’ plane crashes”, a humorous but ill-fated response that haunted him for the rest of his life.
In my opinion, Buddy Holly is the greatest musician to have ever lived. If his life wouldn’t have been cut short, he would have certainly been bigger than Elvis. He had a huge impact in music that unfortunately most don’t realize. And anybody who is anybody has covered a Buddy Holly song!
So, while I obviously never had the chance to meet Buddy Holly, he most definitely lives on through his music. When I was younger, I did have the chance to see The Crickets perform at the Minnesota State Fair. All I really remember is asking my Dad if that was Buddy Holly, since I was obsessed with his/their music and thought it was him (not knowing better that he was deceased).
I haven’t made a trip down to Clear Lake yet, but think I will have to plan a trip for the 60th anniversary.