Buddy Holly (a.k.a. Charles Hardin Holley) was an American singer, guitarist and songwriter; born in Lubbock, Texas, into a musical family. Initially influenced by bluegrass music, he sang harmony duets at local clubs and high school talent shows. Holly turned to rock music after seeing Elvis Presley sing live in Lubbock in early 1955. Later that year Holly played on the same bill as Presley. He went on to be a legend and continues to effect and influence songwriters and vocalists to this very day. He was 22 years old.
The Big Bopper (a.k.a. Jiles Perry) was an American singer and songwriter whose immense voice and powerful personality were among his many traits. The Big Bopper played guitar and began his musical career as a songwriter, writing at least two hits for other artists before becoming a full-time rock-star himself, after ‘Chantilly Lace’ hit No.1 on the charts. He was 28 years old. when he died in the plane wreck with Holly and Valens.
Ritchie Valens (a.k.a. Ricardo Esteban Valenzuela Reyes) was an American singer, songwriter and guitarist, born in Pacoima, California (of Mexican decent). He was brought up hearing traditional Mexican flamenco guitar and jump blues, and he expressed an interest in making music of his own and became a rock-and-roll pioneer of the Chicano rock movement. His recording career lasted only eight months, but during this time he had several hits, most notably his 1958 ‘La Bamba’, which was originally a Mexican folk song that he transformed into a rock-and-roll hit.
He is considered the first Latino to ever successfully cross over into mainstream rock music.
He died with Holly and The Big Bopper on that plane as well. He was only 17 years old.
The three boarded the small plane shortly after the tour bus’ heating failed to work and Holly decided to ask for a small plane instead. The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens joined Holly on the plane for the next show on their Winter Dance Party Tour.
They did not make it.
The famous Don McLean song ‘American Pie’ was written in honour of these fallen men.