February 3, 1959 was the snowy night when Buddy Holly, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson and Ritchie Valens took off in a small plane from Clear Lake, Iowa, after playing a gig at the Surf Ballroom. They were headed to the next stop on their Winter Dance Party tour, and Holly, sick of the miserable experience on the tour bus, chartered a plane.
The plane crashed in a field about five miles from the airport due to poor weather conditions. In an interesting bit of trivia, Valens and Richardson weren’t even supposed to be on the plane. The plane was supposed to be for Holly and his bandmates, but Tommy Allsup flipped a coin with Valens for the last seat and Waylon Jennings gave up his seat to a flu-stricken Richardson.
Holly was only 22 years old at the time of the crash and left behind a pregnant widow, who suffered a miscarriage shortly after the crash. The Big Bopper was 28 and Ritchie Valens was only 17 years old.