Monday, February 2, 2009

Fifty Years Since the Day the Music Died

Tomorrow is the 50th anniversary of the Day the Music Died. Around 1:00 am in the morning on February 3, 1959 a small plane crashed into a cornfield in Clear Lake, Iowa. Besides the pilot, Roger Peterson, there were three passengers on board the plane; the musicians Buddy Holly, Richie Valenz and J. P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson. Everyone on the plane died in the crash. The incident, which eventually became known as the Day the Music died, seemed to signal an end to the first chapter in Rock and Roll music and perhaps the perceived innocence of the 1950s.

In observance of this passing of Holly, Valenz, Richardson and an era, the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake (see our article on the Surf Ballroom) has been hosting an event since January 28 that lasts until today. The event, called the 50th Anniversary of the Winter Dance Party, also commemorates the final performances of the musicians as part of the Winter Dance Party tour. The celebration has included a number of symposiums, concerts and other performances and culminates today with a large concert including performers such as Los Lobos, Graham Nash and the Big Bopper's son.

Besides the Surf Ballroom's activities, fans are also paying visits to the memorial erected at the site of the plane crash itself. The memorial, which was erected in 1988, was created from stainless steel. A twin of the memorial stands in front of the Riverside Ballroom in Green Bay, Wisconsin (see our article on the Riverside Ballroom). Riverside was the second to last place the musicians performed. There doesn't appear to be any commemorative events being held at the Riverside Ballroom this year.

Pay a visit to where the music died.

-Tom G


Zachary Kelley said...

Too add to the story I would like to mention that Waylon Jennings, who was playing with The Crickets at the time, was supposed to be on the plane. After a wager, he lost his seat to Buddy Holly and Waylon had to travel on a bus with no heat.

When they parted ways Holly quipped, "I hope your bus breaks down."

Waylon replied, "Well, I hope your dang old plane crashes."

For years I thought this was an apocryphal tale, but it was recounted by Waylon himself in his autobiography,

Chris said...

wow, very interesting entry, I never knew this went on every year. Very good!