Skip to comments.Feb 3, 1959:The day the music died
Posted on 02/03/2014 6:40:08 AM PST by Baynative
On this day in 1959, rising American rock stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson are killed when their chartered Beechcraft Bonanza plane crashes in Iowa a few minutes after takeoff from Mason City on a flight headed for Moorehead, Minnesota. Investigators blamed the crash on bad weather and pilot error. Holly and his band, the Crickets, had just scored a No. 1 hit with "That'll Be the Day."
After mechanical difficulties with the tour bus, Holly had chartered a plane for his band to fly between stops on the Winter Dance Party Tour. However, Richardson, who had the flu, convinced Holly's band member Waylon Jennings to give up his seat, and Ritchie Valens won a coin toss for another seat on the plane.
(Excerpt) Read more at history.com ...
Another crash victim, J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, 28, started out as a disk jockey in Texas and later began writing songs. Richardson's most famous recording was the rockabilly "Chantilly Lace," which made the Top 10. He developed a stage show based on his radio persona, "The Big Bopper."
The third crash victim was Ritchie Valens, born Richard Valenzuela in a suburb of Los Angeles, who was only 17 when the plane went down but had already scored hits with "Come On, Let's Go," "Donna" and "La Bamba," an upbeat number based on a traditional Mexican wedding song (though Valens barely spoke Spanish). In 1987, Valens' life was portrayed in the movie La Bamba, and the title song, performed by Los Lobos, became a No. 1 hit. Valens was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.
Singer Don McLean memorialized Holly, Valens and Richardson in the 1972 No. 1 hit "American Pie," which refers to February 3, 1959 as "the day the music died."
rock and roll will never die...
That was a long, long time ago. I can still remember.... (I’m 65.)
This was a terrible tragedy and a huge loss.
Although I'm no Rolling Stone (Mag) fan, here is a typical "All Time Greatest Hits" survey. You will see what I mean. Most of the great pop music comes from the 60's.
The ‘Crickets’ didn’t go on this tour with Buddy, so, Waylon and others were hired to fill-in in their absence.
The movie with Gary Busey was very well done. Busey did all of the singing himself.
IIRC he was omitted for san Oscar.
This was before he blew his mind out with coke.
I also recommend the Valens portrayal by Lou Diamond Phillips. The portray that Richie had visions of a pane crash. Don’t know how try that part is.
Rap killed it.
I love auto text. Busey was NOMINATED FOR AN oscar.
According to the accident reports, it was primarily pilot error that caused the crash. The pilot had overestimated his abilities but wasnt qualified to fly under such conditions (nighttime during a snow storm). It required a pilot who was properly trained to fly by his instruments. 9 months earlier the pilot was tested for his certification for that particular thing, but he flunked.
I heard for the first time today, that in addition to Waylon not being on the flight that Paul Anka’s manager talked him into waiting.
those of you familiar with Sam Cooke and those who need some edumakashun should check out his album “Live at Harlem Square.”
Check out this 1957 video of Buddy Holley and he Crickets on the Arthur Murray Dance Party..listen to the introduction..the adults hadn't really figured out R&R..and also note that this was BEFORE he started wearing the big black glasses that became his trademark..
Little Known Fact
J. P. Richardson, The Big Bopper, and country music super-star George Jones were life long friends.
Richardson wrote the country song “White Lightning” which was first recorded by Jones the week after the airplane crash at Clear Lake.
The song went on to become the first #1 hit for Jones at the start of his long career.
anybody know why Dion or some of the Belmonts were not on the flight?
much appreciated. Strange that unlike bandstand no one danced. Kathryn and Arthur Murray crowd.
My mom watched every music show on TV and we would sit with her. Hadn’t seen that one.
On February 2nd 1959, after playing the Surf Ballroom, Holly arranged to charter a plane. Dion decided he couldn’t afford the $36 cost to fly to the next venue. “$36 seemed like an awful lot of money to me,” he said, and told Holly, no.
Shortly after midnight, on February 3rd 1959, the plane crashed near Clear Lake, Iowa, with Holly, Valens, The Big Bopper, and the pilot, Roger Peterson, all being killed. Bobby Vee, then an unknown artist, performed in Hollys place at the very next concert. Later, Jimmy Clanton, Frankie Avalon, and Fabian were hired to finish the tour in place of the three deceased headliners.
Thanx Charles #26 FYI
Interesting comments there...
I really enjoy this thread. I was 12 when this happened and my sister and I were affected by the crash. We were really into the music having been strongly influenced by our mother toward all things musical.
I came here for the news and politics, but this type of thread is icing on the cake.
My 17th Birthday. RIP.
Gopherit (aka “the little bopper”)
Small plane - no room.
Plus the Belmonts were not on the tour.
Dion and the Belmonts had already parted ways and Dion was making this tour solo.
The entire entourage was scheduled to travel by bus but Holly decided to charter the small plane to avoid the long bus trip from Clear Lake, Iowa to to Moorhead, Minnesota.
I was still learning basic American history when the Beatles hit, took my girl and I signed up for the Army ...., I'll show HER, and my father too, by God !!!
Because of Holly's untimely death, he became a legend. Had he lived, today he would be just another old guy doing golden oldies tours.
At the time of his death was evolving away from the rock'n'roll that made him famous, following Elvis into syrupy pop, even going as far as to (gasp) allow string sections to be dubbed onto his music.
His best songs were all hard rockers...
Rock Around With Ollie Vee
I'm Gonna Love You Too
Brown Eyed Handsome Man
And yes, in a sense, the music DID die that day in 1959, only to come exploding back to life in 1965.
Although some of the hits on that survey belong there, I most vehemently disagree with many of their choices, especially their pick for #1, "Like a Rolling Stone" by Bob Dylan--a guy with no singing voice.
I’m in the age group which saw people building bomb shelters and we did duck and cover drills under our desks. The USSR had just sent up sputnik and we thought the end of the world was coming.
This week is the 50th of the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. I was 17 and watched all the girls go crazy. I liked them to, but at heart I was a big R&B fan.
Woolly Bully--Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs (1965)
seems like the article does not mention the Belmonts, just Dion and he didn’t want to pop for the $36 for the flight.
Me too .. Feb 29, 1948
True enough. I didn't much like their choices either. But most of the surveys I've seen of the "greatest" music/songs whatever are heavily biased to the 60's.
For those with a lot of time on their hands I recommend the following YouTube video playlist. It covers music from the 60's through 2013. The best comes first.
They have a nice scene depicting playing at the skating rink in the Buddy Holly Story. If you haven’t seen it, you might get a kick out of the early scenes in Lubbock.
What a great thread! I was 10 years old and living in Moorhead. MN at the time. I do remember the news of the crash but wasnt particularly attuned to who they were, yet, I guess.
The headline below about Iowa’s right-to-work law grabbed my attention. The previous November, Californians rejected a right-to-work law (Prop. 18), but Iowa’s law prevails to this day.
Interestingly, I found the following text:
From the Coroner's Report dated Feb. 4, 1959Did the coroner really pilfer Buddy Holly's cash for his fee??? Never read about that before...
Personal effects found with the body are listed on a separate sheet in this report.
Fingerprints were taken of the deceased for purposes of identification.
Ralph E. Smiley, MD
Personal effects, Charles Holley
Cash $193.00 less $11.65 coroner's fees - $181.35 2 cuff links, silver 1/2 in. balls having jeweled band Top portion of ball point pen.
“Rock n Roll’s been going downhill ever since Buddy Holly died.” - John Milner “American Graffiti”
You’re 1 month from my sister’s age.
I am 12-6-46, second year baby boom.
My mom was a member of the RCA Victor record club. She got a new 78 record every month. IIRC it had 3 songs, all pop singers. Rosemary Clooney, Eddie Fisher, Pati Paige and so on.
We watched the Les Paul and Mary Ford Show followed by Dinah Shore. both 15 minutes IIRC. Tennessee Ernie Ford, Grand Ole Opry. Nat King Cole, Jimmy Durante, Liberace, Perry Como. Anything with music.
I remember my mom tried to explain to us why Nat King Cole was cancelled, but I was too young to understand. Maybe the first and one of the few times my parents ever said anything about race.
I went to boarding school in Paintsville KY. On a warm spring night, I remember the high school girls were out on the big veranda and they were playing records. I laid in bed and heard hound dog and all shook up for the first time. Never heard anything like it.
The nuns let us watch 1/2 hour of bandstand on occasion.
We lived in Logan WV and had two radio stations, both country. No western, just country.
When we moved to Cal, my mom not only had tossed my comic books, but my sisters 45s and all of her Elvis posters.
In 1959 when I was a sophomore in college, Rock-and-Roll was strictly music to dance to. Listening music was Modern Jazz and Folk Songs. The words to R&R were beneath our refined sensibilities. Now, that old R&R is my favorite listening music. The other stuff just puts me to sleep.