The Day the Music Died

Wednesday, 3rd February 2010 by

Today, February 3rd, is the 51st anniversary of the death of Buddy Holly.

The day before his death, Buddy Holly and associated acts Dion & The Belmonts, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, had played the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. After issues with their tour bus, and due to appear in Moorhead, Minnesota the next night, the group decided to charter a small plane from the nearby Mason Airport.

HollySurfBallroom MasonAirport

There was only space on the small plane for 3 passengers, so there was much debate as to who would fly. Dion DiMucci of Dion & The Belmonts had turned down a seat on the plane, and Ritchie Valens won his seat in a coin toss. One of Holly’s bandmates had given up his seat for J. P. Richardson, jokingly saying “I hope your plane crashes”.

And tragically, shortly after take off, the small plane crashed into a nearby field, killing all 3 musicians and the pilot. A memorial at the crash site depicts Holly’s trademark glasses.


Holly was buried in his hometown of Lubbock on 7th February 1959, where there is now a 8/12 ft bronze statue.

Lubbock Cemetry

The crash is referenced in Don McLean’s 1971 hit American Pie as “the day the music died“.