It was a snowy evening, 64 years ago on February 3, 1959, when the Beechcraft Bonanza took off from the Mason City Municipal Airport in Mason City, Iowa. On board were three rock n' rollers who were destined to become legends, following that tragic evening plane ride.   

Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson had boarded the plane, following an appearance at the Surf Ballroom in Clearlake, Iowa, during the Winter Dance Tour.   

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The tour had become plagued with illness and even frostbite, due to the winter conditions during the long cold tour bus rides. Holly chose to charter a private plane to the next gig in Moorhead, Minnesota. Waylon Jennings, a member of Holly’s backing band “The Crickets”, gave his seat to "The Big Bopper" who was suffering from the flu. Tommy Allsup, another band member, lost his seat in a coin toss with Richie Valens.   

As the plane was buffeted by winter storms, the pilot became disorientated, losing control of the plane and crashing into a rural cornfield, killing all aboard. Fans were shocked by a photo of the crashed plane with bystanders standing near the craft, with the body of “The Big Bopper” in the background.  

There was one question that many of Holly’s fans had, concerning the crash. Did authorities find his iconic glasses? For over 20 years there was no sign of Buddy’s glasses. It was in 1980 when Cerro Gordo County Sheriff Jerry Allen was looking through old records in the “dead” storage area of the courthouse when he came across a manila envelope marked “Charles Hardin Holley”.    

Inside was a wristwatch with the name “J.P.Richardson” inscribed on it, and Buddy’s horn-rimmed glasses that were lost during the crash. It is believed that the glasses were recovered when a farmer found them in the spring while plowing the crash site that was located in his field.  

One bow was broken, the lenses broken out and the plastic was badly scratched. The glasses were turned over to his widow in 1996, and she donated them to the Buddy Holley Center, in his hometown, Lubbock, Texas.  

Holly's Recovered Glasses  YouTube/psychediva

In 1971 Don McLean wrote “American Pie”, as a tribute to the loss of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and “The Big Bopper” Richardson. As a result, the tragic event became known as "The Day the Music Died".   

However, the first tribute ever recorded was “Three Stars”, written and performed by Tommy Dee with backing vocals by Carol Kay. It was first released on April 5, 1959, selling over one million copies and winning a gold disc.

With the marvel of YouTube, you can now relive history by listening to this great recording of the tune.

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