On Feb. 3, 1959 a plane took off from Clear Lake, Iowa carrying three stars of rock n’ roll (from left): JP “The Big Bopper” Richardson, Ritchie Valens and Buddy Holly.
They finished playing a show at the Surf Ballroom and were headed for the next stop on the Winter Dance Party tour. After a miserable experience with a tour bus the day before, Holly chartered a plane, but the plane crashed about five miles from the airport due to poor weather conditions and pilot error.
In a weird bit of fate, Valens and Richardson weren’t supposed to be on the plane. It was supposed to be for Holly’s band members, but bandmate Tommy Allsup and Valens flipped a coin for who would get to one seat and bandmate (and now-famous country singer) Waylon Jennings gave up his seat for the flu-stricken Richardson.
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