I read the news today: "Oh Boy!"

DEVIN McKINNEY  •  49 years ago today, a Beech Bonanza craft went down in a farmer’s field five miles north of Clear Lake, Iowa. The plane had just taken off from the Mason City Municipal Airport and was on its way to Fargo, North Dakota. The cause of the crash was uncertain, but it was almost certainly due to the icy winter conditions. Inhabitants included a pilot and three rock ‘n’ roll singers; none survived.

All Beatles fans should take a pause to remember the names and contributions of Ritchie Valens, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, and—especially—Buddy Holly, but for whom the Beatles would not have become the Beatles, nor you and I whomever you and I are. For a fittingly Beatlecentric tribute, put on “Reminiscing” from the Star-Club tape, or “Crying, Waiting, Hoping” from the Decca audition or the BBC sessions, or “Words of Love” from Beatles for Sale, or “Mailman, Bring Me No More Blues” from the Get Back sessions.

The next time I’m back in my home state of Iowa, walking the fields of my mother’s acreage on a winter afternoon, I’ll look at the far pasture fence in the white light and think of him.

The dark shape in the right foreground, they always say, is Buddy. But I don’t know.

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  1. Avatar Michael wrote:

    Excellent post, Devin. Interesting, too, to think how the Beatles story would’ve been different had Buddy Holly not been killed…Had he been alive and productive from 1959 to 1964, would The Beatles have exploded in America like they did? Perhaps Holly would’ve stumbled on some of the magic mixture.

  2. Avatar Anonymous wrote:

    In the photo you posted, you can see Holly lying face down in the snow on the left. On the right, in the dark clothes is Valens. The body of the Bopper is over the fence, to the left.

    Holly had planned to return to the UK in 1959. I’m certain he would have crossed paths with the Beatles. During his first visit to England, he made a huge impression on everyone.
    Here is a link to a live recording Buddy made during a BBC-TV appearance:

    What I find interesting is the Beatles meeting with Elvis, what a big non-event that was, creatively, with Elvis surround by his memphis mafia, suspicious, refusing to have any tape recorders around.

    Compare that to a meeting between the Beatles and Buddy Holly: Buddy would have been truly happy to meet them, probably would have recorded their jam session, and formed genuine, permanent friendships.

  3. Avatar Anonymous wrote:

    Here’s something interesting… What if Buddy Holly had lived to cover “A Day In The Life”?

    Here’s a link:


    push the “play” button and enjoy, it’s my favorite cover of Day In The Life (“I read the news today, oh boy”)

  4. Avatar Anonymous wrote:

    An unending source of frustration for Buddy Holly fans worldwide is the amount of “lost” material. TV appearances, live broadcasts, etc. Recently, a live recording of Buddy & The Crickets on BBC TV surfaced (only because a fan held a microphone up to his television in 1958) and created a sensation. But much is still missing, like his appearances on Dick Clark and other shows.

    It seems there is some animosity towards “Sir Paul” on this topic. Here is a comment recently posted by someone who has been trying for years to dig up the lost material:

    “I’ve never accepted that the majority of the footage was “lost forever”. I always took that phrase to be nothing more than a lazy employee’s excuse not to look. For there to be a dedicated review of all the vaults, you have to give incentives and there are none.

    Paul McCartney has always claimed he bought the Holly catalogue for the love of the music. He also claimed that’s why he did the 1985 documentary. It’s a lie that has been issued time and again by his spin doctors. MPL bought the songs and commissioned the documentary for one reason and one reason alone: PROFIT.

    If Mr McCartney used just 1% of the profit he has made since the sale in 1976 to encourage tape owners and rights holders to go looking, I’m convinced we’d have at least another 6 clips by now, not to mention more audio. It’s not only the British clips, remember, but also the various American clips like Bandstand and several local TV appearances still unaccounted for.

    McCartney could change this situation very quickly with a public announcement that MPL are seeking such items. But he won’t because the bottom line for MPL is profit, not love. Don’t be fooled by all the “Buddy Holly Week’s” he put on years ago or the occasional statement about Holly that he issues where he states his undying love. It’s all spin. McCartney is a P.R. expert. On the face of it, he’s a really likeable and down to earth guy. But at heart he’s just a grabbing money-man. It’s sad but true.”

    I think his comments are rather harsh, but they do illustrate the anger and frustration felt by fans of Buddy Holly, who many consider not the fifth, but the first Beatle.

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