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Falling Stars: Air Crashes That Filled Rock and Roll Heaven

Falling Stars: Air Crashes That Filled Rock and Roll Heaven

5.0 12
by Rich Everitt

Veteran reporter recaptures final moments of doomed musicians

AUGUSTA, Ga. - John Denver. Buddy Holly. Patsy Cline. Jim Croce.

Besides music, what did all of these superstars have in common?

They died in plane crashes while in the prime of their careers. Their untimely deaths left generations of fans in mourning. Many want to know


Veteran reporter recaptures final moments of doomed musicians

AUGUSTA, Ga. - John Denver. Buddy Holly. Patsy Cline. Jim Croce.

Besides music, what did all of these superstars have in common?

They died in plane crashes while in the prime of their careers. Their untimely deaths left generations of fans in mourning. Many want to know what caused the crashes - and what the final moments were like for the doomed stars.

News anchor Rich Everitt, himself a pilot, has married his love of aviation and passion for music to bring readers answers to some of those questions in Falling Stars: Air Crashes That Filled Rock & Roll Heaven. Here, Everitt presents a fascinating, fact-filled book crammed with startling new details surrounding the doomed flights of more than a dozen mega-stars of music who perished in plane crashes starting with the 1959 disaster that claimed the lives of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper.

This breakout book draws on years of research to chronicle the lives and ill-fated final moments of these and more than a dozen other musical marvels, up to Aaliyah's crash in 2001. Others include Otis Redding, Stevie Ray Vaughan and three members of Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Falling Stars not only provides clues to the cause of the crashes that killed the stars, it also successfully recaptures the drama and tragedy of each accident from the viewpoint of investigators, the media and survivors.

In clear, polished prose, Everitt also recounts crashes that killed lesser-known musicians, including Reba McEntire's band as well as Joe Dan Petty of the Allman Brothers.


Editorial Reviews

Edward Morris
This book is a persuasive argument for staying on the bus. The author gives a surprisingly detailed accounting of twenty-four fatal airplane crashes that collectively took the lives of such musical stars as Buddy Holly, Patsy Cline, Otis Redding, Ronnie Van Zandt, Ricky Nelson, John Denver, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Aaliyah, impresario Bill Graham, and many others. The common denominator in most of these tragedies was human error-too little pilot training, too much weight for the aircraft and, always, too much haste to get back home or on to the next show.

A pilot himself who has logged time on a variety of aircraft, Everitt seeks out and summarizes the official investigations that followed each crash. Where there were survivors-and there were few-he reports what they recalled about the fatal flights. In John Denver's crash of his light, experimental plane, for example, Everitt concludes that the singer's troubles began when he failed to check his fuel level-beyond glancing at the unreliable gauges-and then declined the airport's offer to have his tanks filled. He was over Monterey Bay when his engine stopped. The official theory, says the author, is that Denver turned in his seat to reach the control behind him to switch fuel tanks and, in so doing, accidentally pushed the right rudder pedal that sent him plummeting into the sea. Other impatient pilots, sometimes urged on by their famous clients, disregarded weather warnings and promptly died for their imprudence.

Everitt does an excellent job of reducing to a few pages or paragraphs the musical history that brought each of these performers to his or her final journey. He seasons each of his major stories with a section called "Oddities and Ironies." He notes, for instance, that it was Don McLean who encouraged Jim Croce to become a singer/songwriter and that McLean had made his own reputation by writing and singing "American Pie," a song about the Buddy Holly crash. It was only a year after that song became a hit that Croce's plane went down.

In addition to his chapters on the most famous doomed performers, Everitt also offers shorter pieces on the crashes of lesser known musicians, among them Steve Canady (Ozark Mountain Daredevils), Walter Hyatt (Uncle Walt's Band), folksinger Stan Rogers, Christian music singer Keith Green, John Felton (the Diamonds), Harold "David" Box (the Crickets), and the Reba McEntire Band. Jim Reeves is also allotted only an abbreviated section, which is unfortunate given Reeves's enduring importance in country and pop music.

Everitt, a news anchor for a Georgia NBC affiliate, has worked at several television and radio stations. While all the stories that he tells here end the same way, the characters involved and their manner of exit are fascinatingly different.
Foreward Magazine

Product Details

Harbor House
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.76(w) x 8.58(h) x 0.96(d)

What People are Saying About This

Artimus Pyle
"The Lynyrd Skynyrd crash was a life-altering experience for me. I survived, but so many of my fellow performers did not. Falling Stars reveals not only the surprising and shocking facts of their crashes, but, more importantly, the essence of their lives."
former Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer
Shelly Mangrum
"In Falling Stars you get a 'behind the scenes' and intimate look at these super stars' lives - which is what makes this important book so compelling and hard to put down. After reading this book, one has to wonder how music would be today had those great singers not boarded those planes."
The Nashville Network
Mary Muehleisen
"Through Rich Everitt, we catch a glimpse into the lives of some famous 'falling stars' as he shares his insights for posterity."
sister of Maury Muehleisen, Jim Croce's guitarist
James Brown
"Falling Stars made me want to cry, man. In these pages, the reader gets to know some of the greatest musicians who ever lived, including some of my old friends, like Otis Redding. It was like reliving those tragic events all over again, only this time we get to learn the facts behind each of the tragic crashes that claimed the lives of those unforgettable people."
Godfather of Soul

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Falling Stars 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I heard abou this book on the John Boy and Billy Show - and had to get it. Great book that everybody will enjoy. I'm ordering more now for Christmas presents.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a book that i htink everyone will enjoy - it is very well written, and is fast-paced. You just don't want to put this book down. I most enjoyed learning about the lives of all the famous people - Rich makes you feel that you know them. I'm getting this book next fro my Mom who is a big Patsy Cline fan.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a pilot, I was sceptical of this book at first - but I have to say that it far exceeded my expectations. Rich Everitt really knows his stuff - even from a professional pilot's point of view. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this fine book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a terrific idea for a book - combine both music, celebrity, and aviation for a truly interesting read. I absolutely recommend this book to both men and women alike!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books I have read in a long time! It was really, really fascinating and i didn't want it to end. I love that it is divided into self-contained chapters - so you can read it all at once - or just a bit at a time. This is on my Christmas gift list for sure.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really thought I knew all the infomation pertaining to the crashes of these legendary artist, boy was I wrong. Rich Everitt goes way beyond the headlines and gives you details that have never been released to the public before in such a comprenessive manner.This is a great read for any music fan. Simply Amazing!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book! I simply could not put it down - almost made me late for work. Everyone will find that they love this book. Highly highly recommend it!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book makes you feel like you are best friends with these stars and sitting next them on their final flights. And it's filled with facts that make you yell into the next room, 'Hey, honey did you know that...' This book is going to be in the stockings this year of all my music fan friends...hey, I know a few aviation buffs that might find it in theirs too now that I think about it. Great book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was great!!!!! My husband and i are fighting over who gets to read it each night.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is as much about the lives of these famous performers as it is about their untimely deaths - all in air crashes. In addition to explaining what REALLY happened in each of these famous crashes, the author reveals a multitude of odd facts and ironies. A fun and interesting read for fans and non-fans too.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read a preview copy of this book and loved it! It is written in separate chapters, so you can pick it up and read for a few minutes, or keep reading for a few hours. There are many little known facts about the celebrities - you really get to know them. The writing is clear, fast-paced, and exciting - putting you in the midst of the action. This is a great book for anyone who loves music, aviation, or just a good human story. I highly recommend it!