Rock Moment: February 2, 1959
Repost: This is from last year, still of interest today.
The Winter Dance Party 1959 , featuring Buddy Holly, J.P “Big Bopper” Richardson, Ritchie Valens and Dion and the Belmonts, was set to cover 24 Midwestern cities in three weeks. Touring is hard enough, but when the heating system on your bus constantly breaks down in sub-zero temperatures, people can reach their breaking point. By the time the tour pulled into Clear Lake, Iowa, on Feb. 2, 1959, Holly was fed up.
Holly came up with the idea to charter a plane to the next gig in Moorhead, Minn. Not only was he fed up with the bus, but he was running out of clothes and wanted to do some laundry. After the gig at the Surf Ballroom, Holly told the guys that there were three seats and the cost was $36 a piece. Dion couldn’t fathom spending that much money. That was rent for the month. Richardson, who had come down with the flu, couldn’t take another night on the bus, so he asked Holly bandmate Waylon Jennings for his seat. Jennings agreed. Holly then started breaking his balls by saying “I hope the bus freezes up.” Jennings countered with “I hope your plane crashes.”
Ritchie Valens, the 17-year old phenom, had never been on a small plane before and asked Holly’s other bandmate, Tommy Allsup, for his seat. Allsup initially refused, but after playing a second set, decided to flip a coin for the seat. Valens called “heads” and shortly thereafter Allsup was heading for the cold bus.
Just after midnight on Feb. 3, Holly, Valens and the Big Bopper headed for the airport in Mason City, Iowa.
Tomorrow: The next day, and the next 50 years