Sorry, Don McLean, but the music didn’t die
50 years later, Buddy Holly’s songs still alive in tunes we hear today
Buddy Holly was the James Dean of his generation. But whereas Dean — who died at 24 in a car crash in California — was celebrated for his brooding screen presence, it was Holly’s earnestness that defined him. At another time in history, he would have been called a nerd.
updated 2:06 p.m. ET, Mon., Feb. 2, 2009
The wreckage of a single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza was scattered across a small area of snow-covered cornfield outside of Clear Lake, Iowa. The plane crashed into the ground suddenly, so most of the smoldering rubble was concentrated in one area. Three passengers — Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson, a.k.a. “The Big Bopper” — were ejected from the plane and died on impact, as did the pilot, 21-year-old Roger Peterson.
That happened on Feb. 3, 1959, exactly 50 years ago this Tuesday.
It was the most infamous plane crash in rock and roll history, aided somewhat in that distinction by Don McLean’s wistful ballad, “American Pie,” in which he referred to the event as “the day the music died.”