History of The Day The Music Died

Image for post
Image for post

On February 3, 1959, a plane crash occurred in Iowa during a snow storm shortly after 1 am which killed three young rock and roll singers who would go down in history: Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson.

Their story would be captured, “long, long time ago” in the 8 1/2 minute hit song “American Pie” by Don McLean, released twelve years later in 1971.

Many attempts have been made to decrypt the lyrics of this abstract song, and though never explicitly stated — except that the song is dedicated to Buddy Holly — these musicians appear to represent

When

“February made me shiver… bad news on the doorstep” is the date of the crash. These performers were planning a 24-city “Winter City Party Tour.” The bus was so cold that Buddy Holly decided to charter a plane to the next venue in Fargo, N.D.

Who

  • Richard Valenzuela, aka Richie Valens, currently had a hit with La Bamba.
  • Buddy Holly had a number of hits, including That’ll Be The Day and Peggy Sue. His song Peggy Sue Got Married was later turned into a hit movie by Francis Ford Coppola, starring his nephew Nicolas Cage (Coppola).
  • The Big Bopper”, mentioned by Nicolas Cage in the same movie, was not the name of a hamburger, but the singer of the hit song Chantilly Lace.

Why

Oh, and the name of the plane? Was it, as has often been said, “American Pie?”

No, that’s an urban legend. The plane’s only designation was what was on the wing registration: N3794N.

Bill Petro, your friendly neighborhood historian
www.billpetro.com

If you enjoyed this article, please consider leaving a comment, or subscribing to the news feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader, or to your email. Please hold down the clap button below to help others find it. The longer you hold it, the more claps you give!

Silicon Valley Tech Exec: Cloud, Data Storage, Automation. Author of fascinating articles about history, tech trends, andpop culture. Blog: http://billpetro.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store