Grammy-award honoree, Songwriters Hall of Fame member, and BBC Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Don McLean remembers Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, J.P. Richardson – “The Big Bopper” – and the pilot, Roger Peterson on the anniversary of the deadly plane crash just after their concert at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. The fateful day was coined ‘The Day The Music Died’ by Don McLean in his hit “American Pie.” The song was released in 1971 and spent four weeks at No. 1 in 1972. In 2001, thirty years later, the Recording Industry of America named it the fifth greatest song of the 20th century.
“I am honored to know that the phrase ‘The day the music died’ from my song “American Pie” has been applied as a tribute to Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens on this day, February 3rd every year,” shares McLean. “They were my heroes and I always want to take the time to honor them.”
McLean will be bringing his American Pie 50th Anniversary Tour to Australia and New Zealand in 2023. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of one of the most iconic songs and albums ever this year, McLean will entertain fans across the two countries, proving that “bye-bye, Miss American Pie” will forever remain a classic staple in music.
John W. Whitehead wrote an excellent powerful piece in 2019 on the crash for Tulsa Today beginning, “The snow was heavy on that night 60 years ago. The only alternative to riding all night long in a dirty, unheated bus to the next concert gig was a tiny airplane. Shortly after takeoff, however, the plane carrying Buddy Holly, along with Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson, disappeared into a snowy cloud.
“Holly’s torn, mangled body was found a few hours later in a frozen Iowa cornfield a little past midnight on February 3, 1959.
“I was a 12-year-old kid at the time. For Buddy Holly fans like me, it seemed that all was lost, a feeling immortalized in Don McLean’s classic song.
“As an artist, Buddy Holly was only with us for 30 months, between 1957 and 1959, but in that short period, Holly’s innovation and keen musicianship made him the Mozart of rock music and one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century.”