Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Day the Music Died - Fifty Years Later

Fifty years ago this morning, a three-passenger Beechcraft Bonanza crashed shortly after take-off near Clear Lake, Iowa; there were no survivors. Today I'd like to reprint a blog I wrote on the subject back in August:

If I Were a Famous Musician, I'd Stick With A Tour Bus

February 3, 2009 marks the 50th anniversary of the plane crash that killed J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, Ritchie Valens and Buddy Holly (see photo at right). There have been celebrity air fatalities going all the way back to Icarus but it seems that musicians have especially bad luck when it comes to air travel. Off the top of my head I can name Glenn Miller, Patsy Cline, Otis Redding, Jim Croce, most of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rick Nelson, Kyu Sakamoto (Japanese singer famous for his 1963 hit Sukiyaki), John Denver, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Aaliyah.

This is an impressive list spanning a wide range of musical genres but "The Day The Music Died" as Don McLean so poetically put it, is the Trifecta of plane related musician deaths, claiming the lives of not one, but three famous performers. The crash has been immortalized in song (American Pie, Three Stars), film (The Buddy Holly Story and LaBamba) and on the stage (Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story appeared on both Broadway and the West End). The Big Bopper will get his due in the forthcoming film "The Day The Music Died" which according to the website (http://www.bigboppermovie.com/) is based on "the second hand memories" of his son and tells his "untold story". The movie is scheduled to open on February 3, 2009, but the website doesn't appear to have been updated in a while.

Whenever I fly, an evil, miniature Michael appears on my shoulder and starts whispering "LaBamba" in my ear. He usually shuts up after a few seconds (which is just long enough to remind me of my own mortality). I suppose it could be worse; he could sing Holly's "That'll Be The Day."

I'd like to close with a clip of Buddy Holly performing Peggy Sue (tragically there is not a lot of footage of Buddy performing live.


  1. haven't they just turned up a previously never heard before Buddy Holly track? not the world's biggest fan, me, but a new track would still be something to hear, wouldn't it?

  2. I tried to find info on this but google kept bringing me to stuff about the Weezer song "Buddy Holly". I wouldnt' say I'm a biggest Buddy Holly fan either, but he has his place in musical history and it would be neat to unearth something new by him.