Posted in This Day in History

Today’s the day the music died!

A Beech Bonanza of the sort flown by Buddy Holly on February 3, 1959

Well, not today exactly… the infamous date hailed as ‘the day the music died’ is this day in history… February 3, 1959.

On that date, sometime in the wee hours of the morning, a small, six-seater Beech Bonanza, en-route to Fargo, North Dakota, crashed in a lonely cornfield near Clearwater, Iowa, leaving a twisted wreck and no survivors. In addition to the pilot, the victims of the ill-fated flight were Richie Valens, ‘The Big Bopper’ J.P. Richardson, and … of greater significance in the minds of most… Buddy Holly.


‘Bye ‘bye Miss American Pie

Even if you are not old enough to remember the actual event, you may have been around for the release of Don MacLean’s hit song ‘American Pie’ back in 1971. Did you know that the song is a tribute to Buddy? The third stanza is a bit of a clue…

I can’t remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride
Something touched me deep inside
The day the music died


I’m Fuckin’ Buddy Holly!

Now, maybe you are too young to recall both the event *and* the song… Perhaps you still may remember the ‘Kid’s in the Hall’ Buddy Holly send-up skit, notable for having used a Beech Bonanza in a touch of added authenticity.

Of course, only the appearance of the plane was ‘authentic’ in the skit. By all accounts, Holly was a pretty decent guy, which makes it surprising that, in the aftermath of the accident, a rumor went around that the plane crashed as a result of Holly demanding to fly the plane, and then forcing the pilot to relinquish the controls at gun-point.

Nonsense tales frequently arise following events like this, but it seems not to have occurred to those who repeated the rumor that this ‘fact’ could hardly have become known if it were true, given that everybody involved was killed. In actual fact, though it makes for less interesting reporting, the authorities were satisfied that the plane went down because a pilot, who was not properly qualified, made the fatal error of taking to the air, at night, in bad weather.

Mr Lucky …

Waylon Jennings poses with Buddy Holly
Buddy on the left…

What is not quite as well known about the crash is that the Bog Bopper was not originally set to fly that night but was on board because he had convinced another musician to give up his seat. That musician, seen above with on the right, had recently been hired as a bassist to go on tour with Buddy after he broke with his band ‘The Crickets’. A lucky swap allowed him to survive that night and he lived on to become country music star Waylon Jennings

Not ALL the music died that day.


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