Just a few hours later all three artists would be tragically killed in a plane crash
On this day in 1959 Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens, all play their last concert at the Surf Ballroom, Clear Lake, Iowa
In January, 1959, Buddy Holly who was one of the biggest, best selling and most influential Rockers at the time, Ritchie Valens, the young 17 year old famous for his songs “C’mon Let’s Go”, “La Bamba” and “Donna”, J.P. “The Big Bopper” who was enjoying a huge success with “Chantilly Lace” and also together with Dion and the Belmonts, Frankie Sardo, Waylon Jennings, Tommy Allsup and Carl Bunch set out on a 24 day tour barnstorming the U.S Midwest and it became the most infamous tour in Rock ‘N Roll history, the Winter Dance Party Tour. Organizationally, the tour was a complete catastrophe. The shows were often scheduled hundreds of miles apart from one another as they zigzagged through one of the deadliest winters the Midwest had seen in decades, in the worst possible transportation available. By the time the tour limped into Clear Lake, Iowa on the evening of Monday, February 2nd, after the performance at the Surf Ballroom, Holly had decided to charter a small plane for himself, Allsup and Jennings to fly to the next venue in Fargo, North Dakota following the show at the Surf Ballroom. At the last minute, Jennings gave up his seat to The Big Bopper (who had the flu) and Tommy Allsup lost his seat to Ritchie Valens with a flip of a coin. Moments later, Buddy Holly, 22, Ritchie Valens, 17, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, 28, were killed when their plane crashed shortly after taking off from the nearby Mason City Municipal Airport. Investigators blamed the crash on bad weather and pilot error. That day was forever immortalized as ‘The Day The Music Died’ by Don McLean in his 1972 anthem American Pie and it’s still remembered as one of the darkest days in Rock N’ Roll history.
Watch a short documentary about the tragic 1959 plane crash
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