The Day the Music Died: The Last Tour of Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens


Now available in softcover format! The story of the last tour of Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Richie Valens—and the fatal air crash that took their lives. Drawing on new documentary information, the author provides new facts about "the day the music died." With 50 photos.

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The Day the Music Died: The Last Tour of Budddy Holly, the Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens

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Now available in softcover format! The story of the last tour of Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Richie Valens—and the fatal air crash that took their lives. Drawing on new documentary information, the author provides new facts about "the day the music died." With 50 photos.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
After two decades of research, Iowa journalist Lehmer has assembled a sometimes lively, often obsessively trivial history of the tour that culminated in the deaths of three rock 'n' roll pioneers on February 3, 1959.

Lehmer is best when detailing the backgrounds of the three stars and how they came to be on the Winter Dance Party tour. J.P. Richardson, a.k.a. the Big Bopper, was a 28-year-old Texas DJ who held the world's record for continuous time on the air (122 hours, 8 minutes) and had struck gold as a singer with "Chantilly Lace." Ritchie Valens, 17, was the first Latino rocker to achieve national success, with the single "Donna." Buddy Holly, 22, was already a major star with a string of hits. Because of conflicts with his manager, Holly was temporarily broke, so he agreed to headline the tour. Lehmer has interviewed musicians who were on the tour (including Waylon Jennings, who played bass for Holly), family members, promoters, and fans who attended the shows. He establishes that while teens were thrilled by the performances, the musicians were miserable, because their tour bus was comfortless and frequently heatless in the subzero weather. To escape another sleepless night, Holly and the others decided to charter a tiny three-passenger plane after their show in Clear Lake, Iowa. Lehmer devotes much attention to their pilot, Roger Peterson, and to the circumstances of the crash, about which he tries to drum up ominous mysteries. The official investigation reasonably cites bad weather and Peterson's unfamiliarity with the instrument panel, but Lehmer entertains the absurd theory that Holly may have shot Peterson. Exhaustive follow-up material details the legacies of the three stars and what's become of their families, associates, and royalties.

Ultimately, it was just a rotten bus tour and a bad-luck accident; even devoted fans may find their attention here waning.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780825672873
  • Publisher: Omnibus Press
  • Publication date: 9/10/2003
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 447,367
  • Product dimensions: 0.68 (w) x 6.14 (h) x 9.21 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments ix
1 The Crash 1
Coming Together
2 Big Beat from Texas 5
3 The Big Bopper 26
4 Getting Ready 37
5 La Bamba 48
The Winter Dance Party
6 The Tour Begins 61
7 The Tour Goes Bad 75
8 The Tour from Hell 88
9 The Flight 99
10 A Star Is Born 115
11 New Directions 128
12 The CAB Report 135
13 The Controversy 142
14 Legacies 155
15 Family Affairs 178
16 The Fans 189
17 Where Are They Now? 199
18 The Last Tour 224
Appendix A The Plane 233
Appendix B Roger Peterson's Flying Career 239
Notes and References 245
Bibliography 251
Index 257
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2013

    for the ultimate winter dance party knowledge

    for true holly fans and also a fine intro to information if you do not know about what happened to him,a sad but facinating read.the author gives equal attention to jp,richie,roger,and all of the people who were there.I felt as if I knew each of them.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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