The Day the Music Died

Today’s post comes from Wessew

For me the music died on Monday, October 24, 2016 with the death of Bobby Vee.


Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, J.P. Richardson (the Big Bopper) and pilot Roger Peterson left Clear Lake, Iowa for a flight to Fargo, North Dakota. They were to perform at the Moorhead, Minnesota Armory as a continuation of the Winter Party Dance tour. They never arrived as they died when the plane crashed into an Iowa cornfield, February 3, 1959. As news of the tragedy spread in the Fargo-Moorhead area, word went out for performers to substitute for the lost tour members. Fifteen year old Robert Velline and his newly formed group volunteered, were chosen to play and the show went on. The Shadows, as they called themselves on the spot, were well received and Bobby Vee went on to a stellar career before succumbing to Alzheimer’s disease. My parents attended that event. It’s not that they were big rock and roll fans but we lived just a short walk from the Armory in Moorhead and were acquaintances of the Velline family. So they went as a show of support for Bobby and his brother Bill, one of the guitar players in the band. My sisters and I remained at home with Grandma. I have no recollection of disappointment in being excluded from “making the scene.” Seeing as how I was only 6, the entertainment value would likely have been lost on me.

Over the years, the significance of the deaths and dance became more pronounced for me. Collecting the recordings was a given. I’m not big into memorabilia but if only Dad and Mom had kept those ticket stubs what a treasure they would be! I became a fan of Holly and Vee. Not so for my parents. It never seemed to matter much to them that they had been part of music history. I have been able to piece together a pretty good picture of what they experienced. They were in their late twenties so were a bit out of place among a crowd of teenagers. Not surprisingly, given my Dad’s two left feet, they didn’t dance at all. They did watch the Shadows perform but left early and didn’t see Dion and The Belmonts.

Time marches on and it is now the late sixties. KQWB radio began promoting a celebrity basketball team composed of the station’s DJ’s and a few college players. The advertising spot included a sampling of the backup singers for Bobby Vee’s hit record, “Rubber Ball” which in 1968 was now a golden oldie. They sang, “Bouncy, Bouncy. Bouncy, Bouncy.” KQWB 1550 was always on our car and home radios so we heard that little jingle frequently. Well, my Father swore that Bobby Vee had sung that song in 1959. The song wasn’t recorded until 1961 but no amount of evidence could disabuse him of the notion that he had heard it years before. The Vellines were no longer in our social circle, so there was no appeal to authority from that source. Now with the Internet, it is easy to prove how wrong he was but back when I was in high school, information resources were rather meager and it was probably best to let the matter drop in any case. But every once in a while the “issue” would come up. Dad would reaffirm his theory that many musicians play songs before they record them. The fact that Gene Pitney and Aaron Schroeder wrote the song, not Bobby Vee, leaves him unfazed. The mysterious song had become part of a conspiracy. The voices in Dad’s head are like a rubber ball going “bouncy, bouncy.”

Do you have a favorite conspiracy theory?

44 thoughts on “The Day the Music Died”

  1. My favorite is the one that was going around out here several years ago that the State Game and Fish Department was secretly importing mountsin lions into western ND from South Dakota. People swore they knew people wbo had seen mountain lions being released from Game and Fish vehicles.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I always thought it was interesting timing when Paul Wellstone died, but no one ever seemed to seriously pursue that, to my knowledge.

    That plane crash – I lived in Storm Lake IA, at the time, and my mom taught music/English in a rural jr.high/high school that year. One of her students was the sister of the pilot who also died in that crash… possibly the only reason I remember it, as I wasn’t really into the rock and roll scene yet.

    (Reply copied from before. Gotta run, more later.)


    1. Actually, Barbara, there were people who seriously argued Wellstone had been assassinated by right wing enemies. And there was an investigation into the accident, although not officially because of conspiracy theories. As I remember, the report concluded that the pilot was surprisingly incompetent, an accident waiting to happen.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Husband explains conspiracy theories thus: people have an instinctual drive for dominance, and when it is frustrated they tend to explain it in terms of their prejudices.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Morning all. This week I am all about the Kensington Runestone controversy. So much discussion of wording and particular runes, but nobody has asked my question. Why on a journey of discovery, after finding 10 of their crew bloody and dead, would they hang around for 2-3 weeks chiseling a stone?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve heard similar questions/statements before, amounting to “The vikings would have had no purpose here, so the stone can’t be authentic.”
      A logical approach (from our point of view) may or may not apply.
      Another approach would be to treat the stone as authentic and look for an answer to your question, i.e. “If the stone is authentic, the vikings must have had a purpose here. What was it?”


      1. I don’t have any issue whether there were Vikings here or not. It just seems strange to me that there are 1000 years of runes as personal memorials/markers and then out of the blue here is a stone that was used as a travel diary.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. My question would be, why has it been so difficult to settle the question of the Runestone’s authenticity on the characteristics of the stone itself, without having to speculate on the supposed intent of the vikings?

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Because the age of the stone doesn’t tell us anything about when the runes were carved, so the only way to date a stone is by comparing the runes and the design to other stones which can be dated by the artist signature or some other historical data on the stone. Boy, I go to one lecture and……

          Liked by 1 person

        3. Correct. The biggest of the controversy issues is that detractors say the phrase “journey of discovery” and some of the runic letter forms were not in common use 500 years ago (when the stone was supposedly carved) but are more “current”. But this isn’t even close to “proof” that it’s not authentic.


    2. Scott Wolter of Runestone theory fame is scheduled (but awaiting confirmation) to speak at our local library next Saturday…shall I ask your question on your behalf?

      Liked by 2 people

  5. The Day the Music Died was terrible for me. I was a fan of all three musicians, especially Buddy Holly. Our family lived in Ames in 1959. One of my strange responses was humiliation that Iowa had made the national news in such a shameful way. Minnesotans can be touchy about how their state is viewed by the elites on both coasts. But believe me, Iowans are far more touchy about being dissed at every turn.


  6. When I was a kid there was a rumor that Paul McCartney was dead and that his death was being kept secret. Supposedly there were certain Beatles songs that, if played backwards, had hidden messages in them. It was a pretty big deal in the 12- to 14-year old population for awhile.

    McCartney seems to be pretty healthy these days.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was once told that Bobby McFerrin committed suicide after his hit “Be Happy” because he said he was going to do so if it was a hit.


  7. People inclined to believe conspiracy theories operate on the general principle that there is logic (albeit dark logic) behind surprising events. My sense of things is just the opposite. I take it for granted that life is unpredictable and disorderly. To people who tell me “everything happens for a reason” I (very quietly) reply “nothing happens for a reason, although a determined person can always find a satisfying reason.”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have a friend who sees conspiracy in (almost) all things political…I like your comment about logic…he is a very logical, scientific sort of thinker. Helps explain his drive to find sources that claim conspiracy…


  8. There is a whole body of literature around the theory that John Wilkes Booth was not the person cornered and killed in Garrett’s barn, but rather a look-alike and that Booth lived out his life in Texas, I think. I haven’t pursued the details of the theory, but I have a book written by his granddaughter supporting that story.


    1. OK, that’s a book I’d like to borrow (or at least have the title). Did his granddaughter also believe that Amelia Earhart lived out HER life in New Jersey?


      1. “This One Mad Act” by Izola Forrester (copyright 1937). Forrester was most known for her books for girls.
        I’d be surprised if the library had a copy. You can borrow mine.


  9. One of the most predictable things about attitudes toward the past is that people will believe that a famous person did not actually die. For example, I’ve read convincing arguments that Butch Cassidy didn’t die in Bolivia in 1908 but returned to the West. Similar stories are told about Jesse James, Billy the Kid and many others. When I was a kid I heard fervent arguments “proving” that Hitler was still alive.

    If JFK had been killed by a Mafia hitman, maybe people would have believed it. I always thought that people just couldn’t wrap their heads around the fact the most powerful man on earth was killed by a chinless loser dweeb.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. My current favorite conspiracy (One I thought up on my own … of which there are many and span a wide variety of topics) is that Donald Trump really wants Hillary to win the Presidency so he essentially hijacked the Republican nomination so he could run the campaign he’s running (the polar opposite of a “normal” campaign) and guarantee a Clinton win.

    And I wasn’t even wearing my tinfoil hat when I dreamed up that one! 🙂

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dang, lately I can’t get the picture to show up. Paul Simon’s Paranoia Blues, lyrics:

      I got some so-called friends
      They’ll smile right to my face
      But, when my back is turned
      They’d like to stick to me
      Yes they would
      Oh no, no, oh no no
      There’s only one thing I need to know
      Whose side are you on

      I fly into J.F.K.
      My heart goes boom boom boom
      I know that customs man
      He’s going to take me
      To that little room
      Oh no, no. Oh no, no
      There’s only one thing I need to know
      Whose side are you on
      Whose side are you on

      I got the paranoia blues
      From knockin’ around in New York City
      Where they roll you for a nickel
      And they stick you for the extra dime
      Anyway you choose
      You’re bound to lose in New York City
      Oh I just got out in the nick of time
      Well I just got out in the nick of time

      Once I was down in Chinatown
      I was eating some Lin’s Chow Fon
      I happened to turn around
      And when I looked I see
      My Chow Fon’s gone
      Oh no, no. Oh no, no
      There’s only one thing I need to know
      Whose side are you on, whose side are you on
      There’s only one thing I need to know
      Whose side, whose side, whose side

      Liked by 2 people

  11. I remember my mother saying that there was an incident when my family was living in Newport, MN, shortly before I was born. My mother witnessed a plane going overhead that was on fire. She wasn’t the only witness, and she said the fire on the plane burned so brightly that the night sky was lit up almost like daylight. Afterward, the official reports indicated that the military plane burned when it crashed – near Pine Bend – but not before. In those days, people didn’t question the offical government story, or did so only privately.

    Liked by 1 person

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