Happy birthday to Buddy Holly, who would have turned 81 today. For you youngsters who may not know, Mr. Holly was one of the biggest starts in rock music, but died in a plane crash when he was only 22.
He was born and raised baptist, and started out as more of a country western singer. That all changed when he met, and opened for Elvis Presley. He quickly rose to stardom, and had the number one hit in the country, “That’ll be the Day” at age 20. Coincidentally, it hit number one on the charts exactly 500 days before his death.
In early 1957, he was broke, as a lot of young artists of the day were because of bad management. He decided to join the “Winter Dance Party” tour which was to play shows every night for three weeks across the midwest.
On the plane that night were also Richie Valens, singer of “La Bamba”, and the Big Bopper, who had a big hit with “Chantilly Lace.” Future country music singer Waylon Jennings did not get on the plane after losing a coin flip.
The pilot was 21 years old, and had worked 17 hours earlier in the day. They got caught in a blizzard and crashed in Iowa. The event is the basis for the song, “American Pie.”
The song has a line, “I can’t remember if I cried when I read about his widowed bride, but something touched me deep inside…the day the music died.”
That is about Buddy’s wife Marina. He proposed to her on their first date. She didn’t go to his funeral, because she was recovering from the miscarriage she had when she heard about the crash.
There is a marker commemorating the spot where the plane crashed in southern Iowa. It is an enlarged version of Buddy Holly’s glasses. At the marker at his grave in Texas, you will notice it says “Buddy Holley.” That is the correct spelling of his name. When he signed his record contract, it was misspelled on the contract, so he just went with it.