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Updated on July 26, 2010


Life has many ironic twists for all of us but I want to recount three strange facts about pop music stars we have heard of in our lifetimes. Money, fame, or power doesn’t offer any immunity to the ironic twists that life has in store for everyone.


Harold “Chuck” Willis was born in Atlanta, Georgia on January 31, 1928 and was a blues, rhythm and blues, and rock singer in the 1950’s. Chuck never lived long enough to realize his greatest success as a singer. His last hit “ What Am I Living For” was recorded and released just prior to his death from peritonitis on April 10,1958.  Chuck’s swan song went on to sell over 1,000,000 copies and won a Gold Disc after Chuck was gone and it was awarded the Best R&B song of 1958. It seems Chuck had a lot to live for but he was gone before he knew it.



Otis Ray Redding, Jr. was born in the small town of Dawson, Georgia on September 9, 1941. Otis and his family moved to Macon, Georgia when Otis was five years old and he sang in the church choir. It was there he developed his distinctive style and the “King of Soul” was born. Strangely enough Otis never lived long enough to see the release of his greatest hit, ” (Sittin On) The Dock Of The Bay”. Otis died one month prior to the release of this classic from a plane crash into Lake Monona in Madison, Wisconsin. One other small bit of irony Otis had met Barry Gibb of Bee Gees fame shortly before his death and was scheduled to record the iconic hit, “To Love Somebody” which Barry was writing specifically for Otis, but it wasn’t to be and the Bee Gees recorded the hit.


Ritchie Valens (Ricardo Esteban Valenzuela Reyes) rock and roll pioneer whose most notable hit was “La Bamba” was born in Pacoima, a neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley region of Los Angeles, on May 13, 1941 of Mexican descent. Another notable hit was “Oh Donna”. Valens died in a plane crash along with Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper ( J.P. Richardson). The strange event was that Valens was only on the plane after winning the seat in a coin toss with Tommy Allsup on “The Day The Music Died”. Sometimes your number is up and heads should be tails.


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    • Tom Whitworth profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom Whitworth 

      6 years ago from Moundsville, WV


      Thank you for the visit and comment.

    • drpastorcarlotta profile image

      Pastor Dr. Carlotta Boles 

      6 years ago from BREAKOUT MINISTRIES, INC. KC

      Thank you for the memories of these singers! Gone too soon! Voted up! Haven;t been by that much, been counseling alot. When you get a chance came visit. God Bless you!

    • Tom Whitworth profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom Whitworth 

      8 years ago from Moundsville, WV


      It shows life offers no guarantees. Thank you for your comment.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      8 years ago from Chicago

      Thank you for these bits about ill-fated rock stars. A coin toss, huh? There you have it.

    • Tom Whitworth profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom Whitworth 

      8 years ago from Moundsville, WV


      Thanks for the invite will do.

    • Wayne Brown profile image

      Wayne Brown 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Interesting Tom...I have a couple of hubs on these subjects you might enjoy ("Clear Lake" "Soul Survivor"). Drop by and check 'em out. Thanks! WB

    • Tom Whitworth profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom Whitworth 

      8 years ago from Moundsville, WV


      We have lost too much talent way too young. With all the drugs in show business it's ironic how many die in small plane crashes like Patsy Cline.

      Thank you for your kind comment.

    • Tom Whitworth profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom Whitworth 

      8 years ago from Moundsville, WV


      Thank you for you visit and your kind comment.

    • Tom Whitworth profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom Whitworth 

      8 years ago from Moundsville, WV


      Allsup won by losing that coin toss on "The Day The Music Died".

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Tom, It's sad when such talented people die so young. Good hub.

    • BJBenson profile image


      8 years ago from USA

      Some really neat facts. Thanks

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      You are so well-versed in this stuff, it's unbelievable! What irony, indeed, in these singers lives. I'm especially astounded by the tie-in between Valens and Allsup, then that Allsup's "Day The Music Died" happens to be about the repercussions of that very plane wreck of which he almost became a part. Gives me shivers.

    • Tom Whitworth profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom Whitworth 

      8 years ago from Moundsville, WV

      Wow Robert,

      Your bunk neighbor was a great singer if he could sound like Otis. Thank you for your visit and your information about your bunk neighbor.

    • Putz Ballard profile image

      Putz Ballard 

      8 years ago

      Tom the man who bunked beside me in basic training could do a really great Otis Redding, Sitting on the Dock of the Bay. Great hub and some great bittersweet memories stirred by your hub.Thanks for sharing.


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