February 3, 1959 – The Day The Music Died

What a bunch of nerds. Screech would have been a teen heartthrob in 1959.
What a bunch of nerds. Screech would have been a teen heartthrob in 1959.

It takes an awfully major tragedy to proclaim ‘The Day The Music Died”, but that’s just what happened 56 years today in a frozen cornfield near Clear Lake, IA.

Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson perished when their Beechcraft Bonanza plane crashed during an ill-fated flight in the middle of a barnstorming tour of the Midwest. Much speculation, along with actual facts, have fed the imaginations of fans for 56 years. Below are some facts mixed in with a few FirstandMonday guesses in an effort try to piece together what happened that deadly night:

– Richie Valens was famously scared of flying. Due to the inclement weather, and no heating in a tour bus, Valens decided to tempt fate and offered to flip a coin for fellow musician Tommy Alssup’s seat on the plane. Valens won, lost his life and was portrayed by Lou Diamond Phillips in La Bamba.
– The Big Bopper had always wanted to fly a plane. The star-struck local pilot let the Big Bopper take over the controls only to discover his hands where covered in fried chicken grease. By the time the pilot took back the controls it was too late.
– An envious Elvis Presley planted a mole in Holly’s entourage who then detonated a small bomb located in The Big Boppers pomade container.
– Country music legend Waylon Jennings jinxed the flight after responding to Holly’s “I hope your bus freezes” jab with “Yeah, well I hope your plane crashes.”
– Unknown to most people, the rock trio was carrying two Iowa groupies in the 4 man plane. The aircraft’s weight limit was exceeded by 750 pounds, thus dooming the plane.