“The Day the Music Died”
The Day the Music Died, dubbed so by Don McLean's song "American Pie", was an aviation accident that occurred on February 3, 1959, near Clear Lake, Iowa, killing rock and roll musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, J. P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, and the pilot Roger Peterson. After terminating his partnership with The Crickets, Buddy Holly assembled a new band consisting of Waylon Jennings, Tommy Allsup, and Carl Bunch, to play on the Winter Dance Party tour. The tour also featured rising artist Ritchie Valens and Big Bopper Richardson, who were promoting their own recordings as well. The tour was to cover 24 Midwestern cities in three weeks.The distance between venues, and the conditions prevalent aboard the poorly equipped tour buses, adversely affected the performers. Cases of flu spread among the band members, and Holly's drummer was hospitalized due to frostbite. Frustrated by the conditions, Holly decided to charter a plane when they stopped for their performance in the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, to reach their next venue in Moorhead, Minnesota. Carroll Anderson, owner of the Surf Ballroom, chartered the plane from the Dwyer Flying Service. Richardson, who was affected by the flu, swapped places with Waylon Jennings, taking the latter's place on the plane, while Tommy Allsup lost his place to Ritchie Valens on a coin toss. Dion DiMucci (of Dion and the Belmonts fame) decided not to board the plane for the US$36 fee. The investigation of the incident determined that soon after takeoff, a combination of poor weather conditions and pilot error caused spatial disorientation that made pilot Roger Peterson lose control of the plane. Hubert Dwyer, owner of the flight service company, could not establish radio contact and reported the aircraft missing the next morning. He took off in his own Cessna 180 and spotted the wreckage less than 6 miles (9.7 km) northwest of the airport in a cornfield. He notified the authorities who dispatched Deputy Bill McGill, who drove to the wreck site and found the bodies of the passengers and pilot. They were later identified by Carroll Anderson.
It's not an empty field if you follow the trail. We have been here twice as a family and even my kids love it. This helped introduce them to great music they never would have listened to. .
Don't be fooled if you show up at an empty field - keep an eye open for the glasses, which mark the beginning of a trail that leads to the actual crash site. Lots of memorials down that way, so if you're a fan, bring a little something to leave.
The address that you can put in a GPS is 22728 Gull Ave., Clear Lake, IA. When you stop, you stop at the glasses. The trail is then into the corn field (there's a wide path) for about 1/4 mile. There are memorials at the end of the trail. The dog enjoyed running in and out of the corn. You can leave items there if you want.
The site is pretty cool. We went out to the site and the place where they played for the last time. The memorial is interesting. One is 3 records with each name on it then there is a separate plaque for the pilot (i thought that was cool) people come and place flowers and items on the site, like glasses and stuff.
The site is in the middle of a field and the glasses statue on the side of the road marks the beginning of the "trail" to where the actual plane went down. It's about a mile maybe (?) from the road to the crash site, where you'll find a small "memorial". We listened to Buddy Holly's music on the way to the site, took pictures with the glasses and called it good. Kind of a cool site to see and I'm glad we stopped. It took all of 15 minutes.
The farmer of the fields is Jeff, he comes to the site several times a day to chat with the patrons. There was 5 additional groups there when we were on a Thursday afternoon. Very easy walking path and farmer Jeff has plenty of stories for you!
Great stop! I got there in between stormy patches so I opted out of walking the trail to find the other memorial. The glasses alongside the road was still with the detour, in my opinion. Perhaps one day I'll end up there again with better weather.
As a music fan, I had to make the detour to visit this place on our 4000 mile road trip. Me and my son researched the crash as we were driving there and found some facts we never knew before. What a horrible disaster this was and to stand in the exact spot where the airplane crashed and bodies thrown from the aircraft was eerie and surreal. Just park off the side of the road in front of the big glasses and walk right along the barb wire fence to the memorial. It's about a 10 minute walk or so. The memorial itself is small but looking around the barren field where it happened is the highlight. We went at dusk on a cold, snowy night which made it even more special. A must see for any music fan!
happened to open my roadtrippers app and we were 10 miles away! Had no idea its right off I35, take bug spray! didn't go all the way to the crash site because mosquitos were eating us up! will stop back on here the next time we come this way, prepared for the mosquitos!
We were there in 2015 and plan to again this year. The first year we used coordinates in our GPS and they took us to the wrong side of field. We just drove a little and saw the farm nearby, Then saw the glasses! It's a nice walk along edge of field. A kind of quiet area reminding us of ghost stories. It is rumored to be haunted. We actually it a little more than the Surf Ballroom/
Make the rock pilgrimage there if you can! These were rock pioneers!
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Buddy Holly Crash Site
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