On February 3, 1959, the day the music died, the iconic rock stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson were killed when their chartered Beechcraft Bonanza airplane crashed in an Iowa field shortly after takeoff from Mason City on a flight headed to Moorhead, Minnesota.
After some mechanical difficulties with the tour bus, Buddy Hollie chartered a plane for his band, The Crickets, to get to the next city on their Winter Dance Party Tour. By the ill fate of a coin toss, one of Buddy Holly’s band members lost his ticket to Valens. Investigators blamed the crash on bad flight conditions and pilot error.
Holly was only 22 when he died. He began singing country music with his friends in high school before becoming one of the founding fathers of rock and roll. By the mid-1950’s, Buddy Holly and the Crickets held a regular radio show and toured internationally.
Ritchie Valens, born Richard Valenzuela, was only 17 when he died and was growing into a prominent musician on the rock and roll scene.
J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, 28, began his career as a DJ in Texas and later became a songwriter. The Big Bopper’s made his stage persona based on his radio show and his most popular song was “Chantilly Lace.”
The day the music died, describing the tragedy, was coined by Don McLean in his 1972 hit American Pie.