On this day, fifty years ago, the life of a young singer-songwriter ended tragically. The end for this brief and brilliant artistic career was a supernova in the pop music galaxy that continues to reverberate with the shock.
Early in the morning (3 February 1959) a light plane crashed shortly after take-off, near Mason City Municipal Airport, Iowa. All passengers died: pilot Roger Peterson, Ritchie Valens, J P “The Big Bopper” Richardson, and Charles Hardin Holley, otherwise know as Buddy Holly.
Holly’s life was short - too short for him to commit mistakes enough to influence, in the slightest, his inevitable place in the history of music.
Don McLean’s famous line on the event, “the day the music died”, is a conundrum. What Holly gave, in the few years before then, had a colossal influential effect on the music of many singers and musicians. Millions of people throughout the world have been touched by Holly’s artistry, and through their appreciation of the momentum of the music that's still evolving from it.
I was too young to fully appreciate Buddy Holly’s music before he died. But in the years since, I have come to understand how his light is such an amazing guiding beacon to so many in the music world:
The Rolling Stones:
John Denver and David Essex: