Bruce Springsteen once said: “I play Buddy Holly every night before going onstage. It keeps me honest.”
Who knows if the Boss actually said it or not but I’ll be damned if it ain’t true that Buddy made some real honest rock’n'roll.
It was almost 50 years ago today (I’m a couple days late because I was busy turning my legs into linguine at Revelstoke) that Charles “Buddy” Holly, Richie Valenzuela (aka Ritchie Valens) and JP Richardson (aka the Big Bopper) died in a plane crash in Northern Iowa just after a show at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake. A devastating day for rock’n'roll, but as luck would have it Buddy’s bass player — a young fellow by the name of Waylon Jennings — managed to survive.
The plane was chartered for Buddy and his band but Waylon gave his seat up to the Big Bopper, who was running a fever and had trouble fitting into the bus seats. When Buddy found out that Waylon wasn’t going to fly he said, “Well, I hope your old bus freezes up.” Waylon responded, “Well, I hope your plane crashes.” This friendly joking would haunt Waylon for years.
Buddy’s drummer, Tommy Allsup, gave his seat to Valens after losing a coin toss. Valens got the seat and Allsup got the rest of his life.
Buddy Holly was 22. Rock on.