Today marks the 58th anniversary of The Day The Music Died.
Rock pioneer Buddy Holly, J.P. Richardson a.k.a. The Big Bopper, and 17 year old phenom Ritchie Valens dies in a plane crash near Mason City, Iowa. Future Outlaw country icon Waylon Jennings, also husband to Jessi Colter and father to Shooter Jennings, played bass in Holly’s band and Tommy Allsup, father of future Voice contestant Austin Allsup, gave up their seats on the plane for The Big Bopper and Ritiche Valens.
Jennings says he gave his seat to Richardson because “he had a bad cold, and he was a big guy. We’d been driving around in this dinky school bus, and the seats were real uncomfortable for him; he just couldn’t get any rest at all. I can sleep anywhere, so I let him take the plane on ahead.”
Meanwhile, Jennings continued, guitarist and fellow band member Tommy Allsup gave up his seat to Valens “because Ritchie needed to get some cleaning done. . . . He had a cold too, and he didn’t have any clean clothes to wear.”
Before getting on the airplane, Buddy Holly jokes with Waylon and says “I hope your bus breaks down” with Waylon responding “I hope your ol’ plane crashes.” Those were his last words he ever spoke to his friend. Decades after the crash, Waylon told CMT that he thought about that every day and felt that he caused the crash.
Read more about The Day The Music Died here.
It’s crazy to think that the musical landscape could be so different today because of one plane ride.
WHAT IF: The Big Bopper had felt well. What could he have done for the entertainment industry? His personality was perfect for variety TV shows that become popular in the years following his death.
WHAT IF: Ritchie Valens had not died at 17 years old?
WHAT IF: Buddy Holly had another 40 years to cement his legacy?
WHAT IF: Waylon Jennings were the one with a cold and got on the plane? Where would the outlaw movement have gone?