Nugget of Knowledge: The Day the Music Died

The Winter Dance Tour came to Youngstown 10 days after the tragedy that killed influential rock 'n roll musicians

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – On February 3, 1959, rock ‘n roll musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson were killed in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa, together with pilot Roger Peterson.

The event later became known as “The Day the Music Died,” after singer-songwriter Don McLean referred to it in his 1971 song “American Pie.”

At the time, Holly and his band, consisting of Waylon Jennings, Tommy Allsup, and Carl Bunch, were playing on the “Winter Dance Party” tour across the Midwest.

Holly’s pregnant wife, María Elena, learned of his death from the reports on television. She was suddenly a widow after only six months of marriage and she suffered a miscarriage shortly afterward.

María Elena Holly did not attend the funeral and has never visited the gravesite. She owns the rights to his name, image and trademarks.

The news of that miscarriage spread.

The “Winter Dance Party” tour did not stop; Waylon Jennings and Tommy Allsup continued performing for two more weeks, with Jennings taking Holly’s place as lead singer. The show played at Stambaugh Auditorium in Youngstown 10 days later — February 13,1959

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