The day the music died

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Friday, February 1st. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. In early 1959, three rock-n-roll musicians partnered together for an ambitious 24-city tour. Buddy Holly, just 22 years old, was setting out on a solo career after his success with the Crickets:

MUSIC: [That’ll Be the Day]

At 28, rockabilly star JP Richards was the veteran on tour. Better known as The Big Bopper, his big hit was “Chantilly Lace.”

MUSIC: [Chantilly Lace]

Ritchie Valens was but a teenager. 17-years old. But an up and coming musician and pioneer of the Spanish rock and roll movement.

MUSIC: [LaBomba]

REICHARD: Not long into the Winter Dance Party tour, Holly got fed-up with poor heating on the tour bus. In Iowa, he chartered a private plane and Valens and Richardson decided to join him for the flight to North Dakota.

After their concert in Mason City, the three prepared to fly. It was 1 a.m. February 3rd. Heavy snow was coming down. Just minutes after takeoff, the plane crashed into a corn field. No one survived.

EICHER: A Civil Aeronautics Board investigation reported “pilot error” as the primary cause of the crash—an accident that would become known as “the day the music died.”

Not long after the crash, Tommy Lee recorded his song Three Stars with Carol Kay and the Teen-Aires to honor Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and JD Richardson.

MUSIC: [Three Stars]

(Photo/Public Domain)

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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