The tragedy occurred on 3rd Febuary, 1959, and was later described in song, by Don Maclean, as The Day the Music Died. Buddy Holly and the Crickets were on tour with rising stars J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson and Richie Valens. Buddy chartered a plane to take him from Clear Lake to Minnesota, with two of his band members, Waylon Jennings and Tommy Allsup. Because the Big Bopper had ‘flu, Waylon gave his seat up to him, and Allsup lost his seat to Richie Valens in a coin toss.
The three of them – Buddy, The Big Bopper and Richie – set off, piloted by Roger Peterson, at night. It was cold and wintry, and the pilot was not qualified to fly in such conditions. He lost control of the plane, and it crashed in a cornfield. There were no survivors.
I was a week away from my 4th birthday, so the horror passed me by. When I was about fifteen, my brother introduced me to 50’s Rock ‘n’ Roll. I discovered the music of such greats as Bill Haley, Carl Perkins, Chuck Berry and Gene Vincent. I loved Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper. I think I cried when I learnt how they left us, so prematurely. My brother was not a Richie Valens fan, so I didn’t know much about him, but his death was also a terrible loss to the world.
I will never forget the legacy left by the great Buddy Holly. So many wonderful songs, sung in his inimitable style.”That’ll Be the Day” and “Peggy Sue” are those which are remembered the most. I prefer his follow up to “Peggy Sue”, “Peggy Sue Got Married.” It was hard to choose what to share with you, but I’ve fixed on the slow, romantic “True Love Ways.” The images are stills, but they’re very emotive.
The Bigger Bopper was something else! He was totally, 100% adorable. Here he is, singing “Chantilly Lace.”
Finally, Richie Valens, with his cute voice – this is my favourite of his records:
Don Maclean – who went on to have another great hit with his tribure to Vincent Van Gogh – stormed the hit parade with this unforgettable song. At the time the lyrics didn’t make sense to me. It was only much later that I learned what it was about. This is the original video. It has better sound quality than any other I could find.
Buddy Holly, you were at the height of your career, and set to carry on making us sway, dance, and sometimes shed a tear. Big Bopper, I’ll never forget your unique humour and your strange sexiness. Richie Valens, your voice made girls swoon. Thank you all for the music – the legacy you left for millions to discover and enjoy, down through the years.
You are not forgotten.
©Jane Paterson Basil