Remembering ‘The Day The Music Died’

Published on February 3, 2017
Buddy Holly

It was 58-years-ago today that news of a plane crash in Clear Lake, Iowa stunned music lovers everywhere.

Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson were three of the acts on the Winter Dance Party tour in early 1959.

After a show at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake on Feb. 2, the tour’s next date was scheduled for the following day in Minnesota.

Holly, 22, Valens, 17, and Richardship, 28, never made it.

They were killed, along with the pilot, during a plane crash early on the morning on Feb. 3.

Songwriter Don McLean memorialized the tragedy in his song “American Pie,” calling it the “The day the music died.”

J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson

Here are five things about the trio of musicians you may or may not know:

 

1. Buddy Holly real name was actually Charles Hardin Holley. His last name was misspelled as “Holly” on his first recording contract. He liked it and kept it.

 

2. Ritchie Valens joined The Silhouette’s as guitarist and singer when he was 16. The group included members who were African American and Japanese American.

 

3. Country music legend George Jones had his first number one country hit in 1959 with a song written by Richardson – “White Lighting.”

 

Ritchie Valens

 4. Buddy’s Holly’s “Peggy Sue” was first called “Cindy Lou” after his niece. Jerry Allison, drummer for Holly’s band The Crickets and co-writer of the song, persuaded the name change to that of his girlfriend.

 

5. Richardson was primarily a disc jockey until he hit the big time with his recording of “Chantilly Lace” in 1958. He set a record in 1957 for continuous on-air broadcasting at five days, two hours and eight minutes. During that span he played 1,821 records.