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A sad day in Rock n Roll history - February 3, 1959

Updated on December 4, 2015

A tribute to these 3 legends

The day the music died

I always remember as a young kid being struck by a song I considered very special and a real treat to listen to. I was 11 years old when I first heard it as it topped the charts in 1972 for 4 weeks straight. It was featured on the 1971 album American Pie by Don McLean which featured other popular songs but this one was my all time favorite. I remember driving with my dad in his Chevy Nova and listening to this song on the radio and I remember having a real father-son bonding moment with him as we listened to the words and he explained what it all meant.

He told me how he and mom were big fans of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson Jr (the Big Bopper) and he told me about that sad fateful day when their plane crashed changing Rock n Roll history forever and leaving so many to cry and ponder why. I started to appreciate the music from all three of these young and very talented musicians who died way to young. It was a reality the world would learn by the headlines in the newspaper the following day of that cold, sad and tragic day of February 3, 1959 that took these 3 musicians and the pilot's lives in an instant.

I was always a fan of music and when I heard Bye Bye Miss American Pie I was amazed by the words, the emotion, the sadness, the length of the song and the story told. I learned through reading about the song and what my dad knew of it that it was written in tribute to Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens (Ricardo Valenzuela) and the Big Bopper (J. P. Richardson Jr). As fate would have it Buddy Holly was tired of the long and very cold bus rides on the tour they were performing on with the other musicians and he requested a charted flight after performing in an impromptu concert in Iowa during their "Winter Dance Party tour" to avoid the long and painfully cold bus ride to their next scheduled tour date in Minnesota.

Fate also played a part in Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper taking that flight and it is very sad knowing that all 3 went down in that plane and perished due to bad weather conditions that doomed their flight. It seems to be a recurring theme in the music industry of tragic plane crashes taking the lives of so many rock musicians on tours.

I love the music of Buddy Holly (Charles Hardin Holly) and one of my favorite songs of his is Everyday which I could listen to everyday. It just has such a wonderful sound and it picks me up every-time I hear it. I also love his song Peggy Sue and That will be the day. He was a young man of 22 recently married with his beautiful wife expecting their first child and he was so talented and had such promise as he was struck down so very young. It was sad for his wife who suffered a miscarriage shortly after the tragedy.

Donna is one of my sentimental favorites as is La Bamba which were sung by another young and talented musician given the name Ritchie Valens by his agent. He was a special young man only 17 years old who promised his mom when he made it that he would buy her a new house and help her so she didn't need to work so hard to make ends meet. He also left behind his girlfriend and a brother who had to comfort his mother when learning of the tragedy.

J.P. Richardson Jr (The Big Bopper), the oldest of the 3 was only 28 years old and he was a tremendous showman with a great presence on the stage and he really knew how to entertain his audiences. I always love listening to his hit Chantilly Lace which always makes me smile when I hear it. He had so much energy when he performed and he always played to cheering crowds.

We lost so much music talent that sad day and for that brief time they performed they left behind so much wonderful music for generations to listen to and appreciate. They are truly legendary and their music lives on for all to enjoy.

As we reflect on this sad anniversary we should celebrate their lives and their humanity and their beautiful music. May they rest in peace and sing in Rock n Roll Heaven with all the others who have perished.

Thank you Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper for your wonderful music and for entertaining so many!

Thank you Don McLean for immortalizing them in such a wonderful song that I listen to in its entirety every-time!

Edward D. Iannielli III

Buddy Holly "Everyday"

The Buddy Holly Story Musical

Ritchie Valens - Donna

La Bamba - Ritchie Valens

Ritchie Valens

The Big Bopper - Chantilly Lace

Bye Bye Miss American Pie


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    • pongogirl2 profile image

      Jasmine Pena 

      6 years ago from California, USA

      love music also:) Thanks for posting such interesting hub article, love the song Bye Bye Miss American Pie, also hearing that song makes me think of that sad day also.

    • ediann profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      thank you all for your wonderful comments. it was a treat listening to the music of my parents generation and these 3 were all so talented. i wanted to write about my memories of them thru my parents and of the popular song that told the story. for my son matty who is a young kid and a fan of this music i wish to say that they live on in our hearts. they are what make music so special!

    • KF Raizor profile image

      KF Raizor 

      6 years ago

      Waylon Jennings and Dion could also have been on that plane. Dion didn't have the money and Waylon (Buddy's bass player) gave his seat up because the Big Bopper had the flu and wanted to get to the next town to get some rest before the show.

      Very nice hub, thanks.

    • ediann profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      hey wtf they r stll allive why u don't respct them? matty

    • Minnetonka Twin profile image

      Linda Rogers 

      7 years ago from Minnesota

      You did a terrific job writing about these legends. They were all amazing:) I like how you weaved in stories of you and your father and him explaining the Don McLean song. I really enjoyed this hub and you had me very interested with your great pictures and videos. I love the song "Bye Bye Miss American Pie." In my college days that was the song that everyone use to rock out to in the bars. LOL

    • May PL profile image

      May PL 

      7 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      I was always a fan of the song "Donna" by Ritchie Valens, Ritchie died too young. Thank you for this story.

    • FGual profile image


      7 years ago from USA

      Great story on a sad day in music history, we lost 3 great performers


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