Songwriter Don McLean called it "The Day the Music Died" in his classic hit American Pie...
On this day in 1959, Rock and Roll legends Buddy Holly (1936-1959), Richie Valens (1941-1959), and J.P. Richardson ("The Big Bopper") were killed when their Beechcraft Bonanza light plane crashed in a corn field near Mason City, Iowa, minutes after takeoff. They had just finished a concert for about 1,000 fans.
About his pioneering music, Holly said: "They kicked us out the front door, so we went in the back door."
Charles Hardin Holley was born in Lubbock, Texas and inspired by Hank Williams and Elvis Presley to create music. The bespectacled youth experimented with double-tracking in the studio and was the first rock artist to record with a string orchestra. He was also the first to regularly write his own hits.
In 1957, with his band the Crickets, Holly recorded such classics as That'll Be The Day, Peggy Sue, and Maybe Baby. The Crickets were probably the first white group to use the now-standard band set up of two guitars, a bass, and drums.
"Buddy Holly gave you confidence. He was like the boy next door," praised Paul McCartney about Holly's enduring influence on music. The Beatles chose their name in tribute to the Crickets.
Legendary Bob Dylan said, "I just carry that other time around with me... The music of the late Fifties and early Sixties when music was at that root level--that for me is meaningful music. The singers and musicians I grew up with transcend nostalgia--Buddy Holly and Johnny Ace are just as valid to me today as then."