NATIONAL NEWS

The Day the Music Died …


In the early morning hours of February 3, 1959, three performers — Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson — joined their pilot Roger Peterson for what was supposed to be a flight to their next tour stop. But the passengers and their pilot never made it to their destination. Instead, the four were involved in a deadly crash that took the lives of all aboard. This tragedy has been remembered as “The Day the Music Died.”
 Holly had been the biggest star of the bunch, known for such hits as “That’ll Be the Day” and “Peggy Sue.” The teenaged Valens was an up-and-coming performer having nearly made it to the top of the charts in 1958 with his ode to his high school sweetheart with the song “Donna.” Richardson, better known as “The Big Bopper,” was a Texas songwriter and radio DJ who caught the nation’s ear with the catchy tune “Chantilly Lace.”
 After bad experiences with a tour bus, Holly decided to charter a plane
The three singers had each signed on to be part of “The Winter Dance Party” tour, which had a hectic schedule of 24 concerts in the Midwest over a three-week period. Dion and the Belmonts also performed with them on the tour. They had already played several dates before reaching the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, on February 2. By this time, Holly had enough of the freezing, unreliable tour bus and decided to hire a plane from a local flying service to take him to the next gig in Moorhead, Minnesota, to avoid another miserable night on the road. The plan was to fly to Fargo, North Dakota, which was close to Moorhead.
 There was room for two more passengers on the flight, and those seats were originally intended for members of Holly’s band, Tommy Allsup and Waylon Jennings. Valens won Allsup’s spot in a coin toss, according to several reports. Richardson was feeling ill and convinced Jennings to let him have his seat on the plane. According to Jennings’ memoir, Waylon: An Autobiography, he and Holly joked about the change in travel arrangements. Holly told him that “I hope your damned bus freezes up again.” Jennings replied. “Well, I hope your ol’ plane crashes.” This casual remark haunted Jennings for years.


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