A plane crash and three rising rock stars killed together. This tragedy happened on February 3, 1959, exactly 65 years ago, and took the life of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper. A few years later the date became known as ‘the day music died’.
The three singers were on a joint tour that would visit more than 20 cities in the Midwest region of the USA in three weeks. But the combination of pressure to meet tight dates, adverse weather and human error, unfortunately, was responsible for taking the lives of the musicians in the tragic plane crash.
Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper
Buddy Holly was 22 years old when he died. American guitarist, singer and songwriter, he has achieved great prominence in just over two years. He even played shows in England, together with the band The Crickets, and was seen by two young people who would later go down in rock history and said they were inspired in some way by him. One was Paul McCartney and the other Mick Jagger. In 1959, Buddy was beginning his solo career.
Ritichie Valens was the youngest, just 17 years old. He became famous mainly for the classic version of ‘La Bamba’. He is considered one of the pioneers of Latin rock.
JP ‘The Big Booper’ Richardson was 28 years old. He was a great singer and also an outstanding composer. His biggest hit was ‘Chantilly Lace’.
Tragic accident during tour
The musicians were on ‘The Winter Dance Party’ tour, which would visit 24 cities in just three weeks, from January 23 to February 15, 1959. The great distance between cities and the time spent became a problem throughout the tour. tour.
After a show in Clear Lake, Iowa, on February 2, Buddy Holly announced that he would charter a plane to his next destination.
He hired a young pilot to take them to their next destination, the city of Moorhead. But they would actually need to land in nearby Fargo. There were some disagreements about who would accompany Holly on the flight, initially the musicians who accompanied him on his solo career would be chosen. But the vacancies went to Valens and The Big Booper. Valens, in fact, had never been on a plane.
The flight would be quick, but unfortunately they didn’t reach their final destination. The accident, the plane crash, occurred shortly after takeoff, around 1 am on February 3, 1959.
The remains of the single-engine plane were found near a wire fence. Researchers believe that bad weather and pilot error
Roger Peterson, who also died, caused the accident. The pilot had not been qualified to fly in such bad weather conditions. He also did not receive adequate warnings about the weather.
The three musicians and the pilot were found dead at the scene.
The day the music died
In 1971, 12 years after the accident, the tragedy came to be known as ‘the day the music died’. The definition was given by Don McLean in the song ‘American Pie’.
In cinemas, the tragedy appears in the films ‘The Buddy Holly Story’ and ‘La Bamba’.