Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images (left and right) // Undated publicity photo (center)

It's hard to believe, but it's been 60 years since a plane crash killed 22-year-old Buddy Holly, 28-year-old J.P. Richardson aka The Big Bopper, and 17-year-old Ritchie Valens in what's been remembered as "the day the music died" after singer Don McLean referred to it as such in his song "American Pie."

If the reaction from fans around the globe is any indication, it's clear that the legacy of these three musicians lives on.


The plane crash that killed the three musicians and their pilot Roger Peterson took place on February 3, 1959. All three men were playing on the "Winter Dance Party" tour across the Midwest. The experience was a miserable one, however, as the buses they traveled on to get from stop to stop were not equipped for the winter conditions and had faulty heating systems. Several of the tour members––a group that included Holly's band members Waylon Jennings, Tommy Allsup, and Carl Bunch, as well as doo-wop group Dion and the Belmonts––were suffered with the flu and frostbite.

It was Holly who decided to charter a plane to reach their next venue in Minnesota. Richardson, who had the flu, swapped seats with Jennings. Allsup lost his seat to Vallens on a coin toss. Shortly before 1 a.m., poor weather conditions led Peterson to lose control of the plane, which subsequently crashed into a cornfield, killing everyone aboard.

Casual jokes between Holly and Jennings shortly before the plane took off came back to haunt Jennings for decades afterward. Holly jokingly told Jennings, "Well, I hope your ol' bus freezes up!" Jennings jokingly replied, "Well, I hope your ol' plane crashes!"

"God almighty, for years I thought I caused it," Jennings, whose guilt contributed to a long history of substance abuse, once told CMT.

Social media users commemorated the mournful anniversary, noting his "huge" influence on rock and pop music.





One fan recalled a visit she paid to the memorial at the plane crash site.


Iowa's Surf Ballroom, the last venue that Holly and his group played before they died, also commemorated this day with a special marquee.

The inside of the venue serves as a miniature Buddy Holly Museum.

Holly's hometown of Lubbock, Texas, is constructing the Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts and Sciences, slated to open next year in the city's arts district.

Buddy Holly - Everyday www.youtube.com

Pretty sure these men are still playing music, wherever they are.

CHUTTERSNAP/Unsplash

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