Clear Lake, IA Airplane Crash Kills Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper, Feb 1959
3 ROCK 'N' ROLL STARS DIE
Airplane Crashes In Iowa
Iowa Pilot Also Killed; Trio Had Performed At Clear Lake
MASON CITY (AP) - Three of the nation's top rock 'n' roll stars were killed during a light snow when their chartered plane crashed shortly after taking off from the airport here early Tuesday.
The trio, BUDDY HOLLY, 22, of Lubbock, Texas; RITCHIE VALENS, 17, of Los Angeles, and J. P. RICHARDSON, 24, of New Orleans, known professionally as the "Big Bopper", had completed an engagement at the Surf ballroom in nearby Clear Lake a short time before.
The were on their way to Fargo, N. D., for an appearance Tuesday night.
The 4-place plane was chartered from the Dwyer Flying Service of Mason City.
The pilot was ROGER PETERSON of Clear Lake, who was also killed.
Cause of the crash was not immediately determined, although authorities tentatively blamed weather conditions at the time of takeoff.
C. R. Appearance
The 3 rock 'n' roll singers killed in an Iowa plane crash Tuesday were to have appeared at Danceland in Cedar Rapids Friday night. DARLOW OLSON, Danceland manager, said replacement stars will be obtained. The trio was to have appeared in Sioux City Wednesday night and Des Moines Thursday night.
HOLLY, who sang with the Crickets, sailed to Rock 'n' Roll fame with his recording of "Peggy Sue."
The BIG BOPPER gained fame through his recording of "Chantilly Lace" and the more recent "Big Bopper Wedding."
VALENS was identified as having one of the current top hits, a recording called "Donna."
They had appeared on various television shows and were idols of the teen-age rock 'n' roll set.
A strong southerly wind and light blowing snow filled the air when the plane took off about 1 a. m.
The Beechcraft Bonanza burned when it crashed into a field on the ALBERT JUHL farm 15 miles northwest of Mason City.
Other members of the troupe which appeared at Clear Lake had left after the show by chartered bus for Fargo. The are DION and the Belmonts, FRANKIE SARDO and the Crickets, of which HOLLY was the singing star.
HOLLY, VALENS and the "BIG BOPPER" decided to fly in order to arrive ahead of the troupe and make advance preparations.
The 4 bodies were badly burned.
Looked For Plane
JERRY DWYER, owner of the flying service, set out to look for the party when no word came back from his pilot.
He was delayed several hours in searching for the plane because of early morning fog.
Later observers of the wreckage said the plane apparently hit the ground first at the left wingtip, and plowed a furrow about 20 to 25 feet across a stubble field.
Then the body of the craft evidently struck the ground, peeled off the surface of the field, and bounced as the left wing came off and remained there.
The plane then struck the ground again about 100 feet farther northwest, and skidded the length of about 2 city blocks before the wreckage piled up against a fence.
Three of the bodies were lying on the ground near the wreckage, and one still was inside of what was left of the plane.
The plane was just a jumble of wreckage, with pieces here and there. Along the path of the plane also were scattered a suitcase, a shoe, and other articles.
Two deputy sheriffs and some state highway patrolmen would not permit anyone into the field where the plane wreckage lay for about an hour and a half after word of the crash spread.
It took that long to find the county coroner, notify him of the accident, and get him to the scene.
The trip to Fargo was expected to take about 3½ hours.
Both RICHARDSON and VALENS had written some of the tunes they recorded.
VALENS started singing while still in high school and composed "Come On, Let's Go" which first established him as a jukebox favorite.
He was scheduled to appear on the March 7 Perry Como television program.
RICHARDSON started out as a radio station disc jockey.
HOLLY began his musical career studying the violin at age 4. He won an amateur contest a year later, but by his high school days had switched to the guitar. His interest in western music won him appearances on several broadcast shows and in 1955 he came to the attention of recording officials.
His first click disc was "That'll Be The Day", followed by "Early In The Morning" and "Peggy Sue".
Just released was his recording of "It Doesn't Matter Anymore".
HOLLY was married 7 months ago. The other two were single.
In Hollywood, trade sources said the combined record sales of the 3 popular singers was in the millions.
The Cedar Rapids Gazette Iowa 1959-02-03
Some photos courtesy of the excellent site
www.lostflights.org by Mike McComb
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