Remembering Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and 'The Big Bopper' and marking the day the music died.

FOX's Jeff Monosso reports from Clear Lake, Iowa:

(Christgau) "A long long time I can still remember how that music used to make smile."

It was February 2, 1959 when the band played at The Surf Ballroom here in Clear Lake, Iowa. Where beyond The Surf's manual lettered marque, caretaker and Surf historian Wayne Christgau walked us back through time onto the worn oakwood dance floor, touching the original stage curtains, peering through The Surf's ocean-front murals, and sitting in booths... reminiscent of milkshakes and rock and roll.


(Christgau) "When Buddy Holly got to The Surf on that Monday night - they pulled in here about seven o'clock."

...with his band including Tommy Allsup and Waylon Jennings and rising stars Ritchie Valens and JP 'The Big Bopper' Richardson. Part of the Winter Dance Party Tour.

(Christgau) "Oddly enough Buddy wasn't the featured attraction. These kids came to see 'The Big Bopper' because he had this song called 'Chantilly Lace' - which was just causing a frenzy among all the kids."

But it was a poorly planned tour that crisscrossed the Midwest in broken-down and cold buses leading Holly's drummer Carl Bunch to be hospitalized for frost bite.

That prompted Holly to charter a plane to the next show near Fargo, North Dakota.

(Christgau) "The offices which we still use that's where he charted a plane with the manager Carol Anderson - and then Buddy came over here - this is a pay phone that goes back to the 50's."

It's where Buddy Holly would last speak to his pregnant wife and Valens to his road manager.

(Christgau) "The original manifest was gonna be Buddy Holly, Waylon Jennings and Tommy Allsup that was his immediate band - well the other musicians heard about this plane and they wanted to get on it too."

And two of them did.

'The Big Bopper', who was also falling ill, convinced Jennings to give up his seat.

(Christgau) "Waylon told Buddy that he gave up his seat to 'The Big Bopper' and Buddy said 'Well, thanks a lot Waylon. I arrange for this plane now your not going on it. I hope your whole bus breaks down.' And Waylon should've kept it at that but he didn't. He kind of joked back to Buddy 'Well I hope your whole plane crashes'."


Ritchie Valens got Tommy Allsup's seat on the plane in a coin toss inside in The Surf's infamous greenroom.

(Christgau) "This was the only room we didn't renovate because we wanted to keep it just as it was the night Buddy Holly was here. So this was the last room the guys were in before they exited the door to go to the airport."

The plane took off just after 1am on February 3rd, and then crashed, just miles away from The Surf ballroom.

(Action Central News) "We interrupt this program for a special news bulletin. Three young singers who soared to the heights of show business on the current rock and roll craze were killed today in the crash of a light plane in an Iowa snow flurry. The singers were identified Ritchie Valens, 17, Buddy Holly, 22, and JP Richardson, known professionally as 'The Big Bopper'. Cause of the crash was due to inclement weather conditions. The tale's upcoming from Action Central News."

Buddy Holly's pregnant wife would hear of her husband's death on the news, suffering a miscarriage, which later lead to family notification before victims names are released.


And today at the crash site, in the rolling hills of a vast snow covered cornfield, a half-mile walk off a gravel road, a whirligig made of vintage cake pans blows in the wind behind a simple - yet powerful memorial with three stainless steel records and a guitar... Marking where 57 years ago today...

"The music died."

In Clear Lake, Iowa, Jeff Monosso, FOX News.

VIEW more photos from Clear Lake, Iowa (Photos by Jeff Monosso):