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Anniversary of ‘The Day the Music Died’ – Remembering Buddy Holly, Richie Vallens and Big Bopper Richardson

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It was February 3, 1959 when singers, Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson died in a plane crash. It’s known as “The Day the Music Died.”

Following a performance at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, on February 2, 1959, Holly chartered a small airplane to take him to the next stop on the tour. There was a snowstorm, and the pilot, Roger Peterson, was not qualified to fly by instruments only.

Band mate Waylon Jennings had given up his seat on the plane, causing Holly to jokingly tell Jennings, “I hope your ol’ bus freezes up!” Jennings shot back jokingly, “Well, I hope your ol’ plane crashes!” It was a statement that would haunt Jennings for the rest of his life.

Holly, Valens, Richardson and the pilot were killed en route to Moorhead, Minnesota, when their plane crashed soon after taking off from nearby Mason City in the early morning hours of February 3.

The plane came down only five miles northwest of the airport, but no one saw or heard the crash.The bodies lay in the blowing snow through the night.

The first song to commemorate the musicians was “Three Stars” by Eddie Cochran. This song was recorded just one day after the disaster occurred.

Twelve years later, in 1971, Don McLean released his single, “American Pie”, to commemorate Buddy Holly’s death. McLean’s song began the reference to the tragedy as “The Day the Music Died”.

And one last detail is that “American Pie”, according to legend, was the name of the airplane in this tragedy. However, there is no record of the plane having that name.

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