(from “Today in Oldies Music History“) Within minutes of takeoff from the Mason City, IA Airport, at around 1:00 AM CST, the chartered Beech-Craft Bonanza airplane No. N3794N containing Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper crashes into the Iowa countryside, killing all three in addition to pilot Roger Peterson. The plane, headed for the next “Winter Dance Party” tour stop in Fargo, ND, had been chartered by Holly in order for the band members to travel in heated comfort and to arrive early for their next gig.
When he learns that band member Waylon Jennings, who would eventually become a country star in his own right, has decided to take the freezing bus instead, Holly jokes, “Well, I hope your old bus freezes up.” Jennings jokes back, “Well, I hope your plane crashes.” Another Holly band member, Tommy Allsup, flips Valens for the last available seat, losing the coin toss. Valens exclaims, “That’s the first time I’ve won anything in my life!”
Pilot Peterson, not having been informed of worsening weather conditions, decides to fly “on instruments,” meaning without visual confirmation of the horizon, which leads to the crash. The tragedy was later immortalized as “The Day The Music Died” by Don McLean in his famous song “American Pie.” (http://oldies.about.com/od/oldieshistory/a/february3.htm)
Pay tribute to the loss of these influential musicians and keep their music alive! Check out Buddy Holly Lives, a souvenier songbook with many full-color photographs. For choirs, try the Ritchie Valens Medley which includes “Come on Let’s Go,” “Donna,” and “La Bamba.” Remember “The Big Bopper” and his contemporaries with the collection History of Rock-Late 50’s which includes “Chantilly Lace.”