February 3, 1959

By Betsy Thorpe

In the early morning hours of February 3, 1959, the ill-fated Winter Dance Party set out for Moorhead Minnesota . Most members of the Winter Dance Party re boarded the tour bus that had brought them to Clear Lake Iowa from Green Bay Wisconsin, however, the “Big Bopper” and Ritchie Valens chose to join Buddy Holly on the Beechcraft B35 Bonanza aircraft leased by Holly. The plane crashed less than five miles from Clear Lake. Buddy Holly, J.P “The Big Bopper” Richardson and Ritchie Valens were all killed on impact along with the aircraft’s young pilot, Roger Peterson.

Following the tragic deaths of rock and roll stars Buddy Holly, J.P. Richardson and Ritchie Valens, teen idols Bobby Vee, Frankie Avalon, Jimmy Clanton and Fabian joined the Winter Dance Party. The tour continued forward and no shows were canceled, however the heart and soul of rock and roll was forever altered.


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