Today marks the 50-year anniversary of the plane crash that, on February 3, 1959, killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and JP Richardson (“The Big Bopper”). The three icons died in a small airplane that crashed in Clear Lake, Iowa.The crash also killed the 21-year-old pilot, Roger Peterson.
Fans have built a memorial at the site of the plane crash and continue to show respect by visiting the sight every year. Many people associate the plane crash as “the day the music died” but, in fact, the music has lived on even after all of these years. Even though I was not born until 1977, I have always been familiar with the music of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper. A younger generation may not realize how much of an influence these 3 great artists have still today. The songs “Peggy Sue” and “La Bamba” and The Big Bopper’s recording of “Chantilly Lace” are all familiar even to an average 18-year-old.
A tribute to the three music icons was held last night in Clear lake, Iowa, at the Sun Surf Ball room. The Sun Surf ball room was the last place Buddy Holly played before his plane crashed. The sold out concert was called “50 winters later” Fans were able to meet Buddy Holly’s widow, Maria Elena Holly and also members of the Valens family and The Big Bopper’s son, JP “Richardson Jr. “The Big Bopper Jr.”
Buddy Holly was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. Ritchie Valens was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001. The Big Bopper has not been inducted into the Hall of Fame.
In 2007, The Big Bopper’s son had his dad’s body exhumed and had another autopsy done. Rumors had always been present that The Big Bopper had been shot before the plane crash. The autopsy reveled what The Big Bopper Jr. had always believed, his father had not been shot. JP Richardson Jr. never had a chance to meet his father, his mother was pregnant with him when the plane crashed.
If you would like to pay tribute to Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper you can visit the crash site in Clear Lake, Iowa. The city of Clear Lake has posted directions on their website here. The city asks fans respect the site, which is on private property.
If you would like to see a video Don McLean performing “American Pie” A video has been posted on you tube that is of decent quality. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6uEjifqTaI
Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper still live on in music today.