Friday, February 3, 2012

The day the music died


Buddy Holly (Charles Hardin Holley) an American singer-songwriter and pioneer of rock and roll, died in a plane crash on this day in 1959. He was only 23 years old.

Although his career lasted less than two years, Holly's innovations were copied by his contemporaries and later musicians, notably The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, and exerted a profound influence on popular music. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked Holly #13 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

Holly was on tour with Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson (The Big Bopper) in Iowa. After their last performance, at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, Holly chartered a Beechcraft Bonanza to take him and his new back-up band (Tommy Allsup, Carl Bunch, and Waylon Jennings) to Fargo, North Dakota. Bunch missed the flight, as he was in the hospital with frostbite. The Big Bopper asked Jennings for his spot on the four-seat plane, as he was recovering from the flu. Ritchie Valens was still signing autographs at the concert site when Allsup walked in and told him it was time to go. Allsup pulled a 50 cent coin out of his pocket and the two men flipped for the seat. Allsup lost.

The plane took off in light snow and gusty winds, and crashed after only a few minutes. The wreckage was discovered several hours later. The crash killed Holly, Valens, Richardson, and the 21-year-old pilot, Roger Peterson. Holly's body, along with those of Valens and Richardson, were thrown from the wreckage, Holly's body being nearly decapitated by his impact with a tree.

In his song, "American Pie," Don McLean called it "the Day the Music Died."

Holly's pregnant wife became a widow after barely six months of marriage and miscarried soon after.

Holly's headstone carries the correct spelling of his surname (Holley) and a carving of his Fender Stratocaster guitar.