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Iowa History Daily: February 2 - The Day the Music Died

Iowa History Daily: On February 2, 1959, Buddy Holly took the stage at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake for the final performance of his career as a part of the “Winter Dance Party” tour. In the hours after the performance, a chartered plane carrying Holly and other musicians crashed killing everyone on board.

Fresh off his departure from the Crickets, Buddy Holly embarked on a tour featuring 24 Midwestern cities in 24 days. Holly’s new band included Waylon Jennnings, Tommy Allsup, Carl Bunch, and Frankie Sardo. Other acts out on the road for the tour included Ritchie Valens, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, as well as Dion and the Belmonts. 

The tour rolled into Clear Lake on one bus, frustrated with the poorly thought out tour schedule which zig-zagged across the Midwest in no discernable pattern. 1,000 eager North Iowans packed the Surf to hear the chart-topping acts, and the concert went off without a hitch. With the show successfully in the books, the tour prepared to head for Moorhead, Minnesota.

To avoid the drive, Holly chartered a plane out of Mason City. According to reports, Waylon Jennings gave his seat to “The Big Bopper” who suffered from flu-like symptoms. Allegedly, Holly quipped to Jennings before departing: “Well, I hope your damned bus freezes up." Jennings responded: "Well, I hope your ol' plane crashes", a humorous but ill-fated response that haunted him for the rest of his life. The plane crashed near Clear Lake, and became known as “The Day the Music Died.” #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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