Feb. 3: “The Day The Music Died” in Iowa
On Feb. 3, 1959, rock and roll legends Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. Richardson (aka "The Big Bopper") died in a plane crash in Clear Lake, Iowa. The date is often referred to as "The Day The Music Died".
You remember Valens' hit "La Bamba" and Buddy Holly's hits "Peggy Sue" and "Not Fade Away". The Big Bopper recorded "Chantilly Lace" and "White Lightning".
Holly, Valens, and the other musicians were headed to their next tour stop in Fargo, North Dakota when the crash happened just outside of Clear Lake, Iowa in the middle of a winter storm. The crew had just performed at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake as part of the Winter Dance Party Tour. The tour was demanding, as it covered 24 cities in as many days.
Because the tour bus was very cold and even caused one musician to develop frostbite on his feet, Buddy Holly rented a charter plane out of Mason City to help him and his team on the tour.
The crash claimed the lives of all three musicians as well as the plane's 21-year-old pilot. Valens was just 17 at the time of the plane crash.
The official cause of the crash was determined to be pilot error caused by weather conditions.
Waylon Jennings, who had offered his plane seat to The Big Bopper, would pay tribute to Buddy Holly in his song "Old Friend".
Of course, you know Don McLean's anthem "American Pie". A lyric in it references the Feb. 3rd crash, calling it "the day the music died".