On February 3, 1959, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” chartered a small plane after finishing up their gig at the Winter Dance Party in Cleark Lake, Iowa. Tired of the crumby conditions of their school tour bus and desperately yearning for a hot shower and clean clothes, the three 1950s rock & roll musicians boarded the four-seater in a light snow on route to Fargo, North Dakota. Five minutes into the flight, the plane drifted southward and crashed, killing all four passengers.
It was on this tour, which passed through the chilly auditorioums of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa, that an early Bob Dylan (then known by his birth name “Bobby Zimmerman”) caught a glimpse of the 22-year old Holly on January 31 at the Armory in Duluth, Minn. Dylan would later reference this gig in his Grammy acceptance speech: “And I just want to say that when I was sixteen or seventeen years old, I went to see Buddy Holly play at Duluth National Guard Armory and I was three feet away from him…and he looked at me. And I just have some sort of feeling that he was–I don’t know how or why–but I know he was with us all the time we were making this record in some kind of way.”
Buddy Holly’s remarkable impact on rock & roll and pop music should never be forgotten. From John Lennon and Paul McCartney, to the Rolling Stones and the Black Keys, and to the Grateful Dead, his midwestern pop love songs have left him a lasting legacy that will never fade away.