The Day the Music Died

61 years since The Day the Music Died

Today marks 61 years since a tragedy that changed the music scene in the late 50s and early 60s. On 3 February 1959, rising stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P Richardson - also known as the "Big Bopper" - were killed in a light aircraft crash in Iowa in the United States.

East Coast Gold web Buddy Holly

They'd been on tour at the time, and were growing tired of long car journeys across the US. After stopping at Clear Lake in Iowa, Holly decided to travel by plane to their next gig in Minnesota.

Richardson - who had the flu at the time - swapped places to get his seat, while Valens won a coin toss, landing him on the fateful chartered flight.

Shortly after take off the pilot, Roger Peterson, lost control of the light aircraft and it crashed into a cornfield. The three musicians, and  Peterson, were killed instantly.

Investigators later put the crash down to bad weather and pilot error.

Imagine what these up-and-coming artists might have achieved had they survived?

Buddy Holly and the Crickets had just reached No. 1 on the charts with 'That'll Be the Day'. Other hits included 'Peggy Sue', 'Maybe Baby' and 'Everyday'. He was a main pioneer of rock and roll in the 1950s and a big influence on many big artists, including The Beatles and Bob Dylan. He was just 22 when he died.

The Big Bopper was 28 at the time of the crash. He was best known for his 1958 song 'Chantilly Lace'.

Ritchie Valens was a Mexican American singer and guitarist. He was just 17-years-old when he died. In his short career, he'd already had several big hits, including 'La Bamba', 'Come On, Let’s Go' and 'Donna’

Singer Don McLean released his classic song in 1971 called 'American Pie' - which memorialized Holly, Valens and Richardson, and came to be known as 'The Day the Music Died’.

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