The Day the Music Died: Remembering the Magic of Buddy Holly

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Today marks the 51st anniversary of the death of the remarkable singer and songwriter, Buddy Holly.

On February 3, 1959 Buddy Holly, JP “The Big Bopper” Richardson and Ritchie Valens died in a plane that crashed near Clear Lake, Iowa.

The three stars of rock n’roll had just finished playing a show at the Surf Ballroom when they got on a charter plane to take them to the next stop on their Winter Dance Party tour. Poor weather conditions and pilot error brought the plane down five miles after take-off.

(More on TIME.com: See more photos of Buddy Holly here)

Charles Hardin “Buddy” Holly was only 22 years old when he died, and Ritchie Valens was just 17. Holly left behind his pregnant wife, who miscarried shortly after the crash. The tragic loss of these three great talents was later immortalized in Don McLean’s famous song “American Pie”, in which he called the fateful day “The Day the Music Died.”

(More on TIME.com: See photos of The Rolling Stones 1969 American Tour here)

Despite his young age, Buddy Holly left behind an impressive back catalog that had a profound influence on rock and roll music. The Beatles named themselves as a tribute to the Crickets, Holly’s band, and his song “Not Fade Away” was famously rerecorded by the Rolling Stones.

The young star was also remembered in the biopic The Buddy Holly Story (1978) starring Gary Busey, and a musical of the same name that was first performed in London’s West End in 1988 where it ran for over 12 years.

(Via The Baltimore Sun)

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