Thursday, March 18, 2010

winter dance party 1959, the conclusion (CORRECTIONS)

so, now i have the details... who was ON the tour? buddy holly and the crickets (not the regular crickets, but tommy allsup, waylon jennings and carl bunch until carl got frostbite then just the other two). the big bopper. ritchie valens (who does have a "t" in ritchie which i did not know). dion and the belmonts. and frankie sardo.

this was one fucked up tour, i'll say that... for one thing the dates must have been arranged by a crazy person (or santa claus) to maximize driving through the chilly nights of the northern midwest. surely everyone knows, but i'll say it, the surf ballroom show was added about three days before they played it. it wasn't supposed to be on the tour. you'll see why it was added, they had so much free time and all (sarcasm).

fabulous tour dates for the lamented winter carnival of 1959 (tour of wisconsin, iowa, and minnesota... i know the plane was flying to a north dakota destination, but it was across the way from some town in minnesota. and hell, if you're flying around in fucking early february why not go to the coldest state we fucking have? especially at night. not blaming the victims, just... would it have been the end of the world if this fucking tour made a little sense? i'll stop bitching, here it is..

tour dates all end in 1959, obviously
1/23 george divine's million dollar ballroom (milwaukee)
1/24 eagles ballroom (kenosha, also featured debbie stevens)
1/25 kato ballroom (mankato, mn)
1/26 fournier's ballroom (eau claire, wi)
1/27 fiesta ballroom (montvideo, mn)
1/28 prom ballroom (st. paul)
1/29 capitol theater (davenport)
1/30 laramar ballroom (ft. dodge)
1/31 national guard armory (duluth, mn)
2/1 riverside ballroom (green bay)
2/2 surf ballroom (clear lake)
2/3 (whoever was left played a show in i don't care minnesota... i don't know how much longer the tour continued after this, hell, if the guys who planned it are still alive it's STILL going on)

(i was wrong about the following sentence, the plane didn't take off until 1 a.m. on 2/3/59. it was found around 9 a.m. and the coroner arrived at 11:15 a.m. on 2/3/59... sorry about the confusion. i found the coroner's report.) the plane actually crashed on 2/2/59 (wrong, it was 2/3) even though most people did not know about it until 2/3/59. it's kind of hard to believe, but back in the day i guess rockers played shows at decent hours because the fucking coroner arrived at the scene at 11:30 p.m. (wrong, it was 11:15 a.m. the day after the show) so, they played the show, flipped coins, exchanged banter, went to the airfield, loaded up, took off, crashed, got found, correct people were notified and the coroner rolled up all before midnight (wrong again, sorry, but the plane did crash shortly after 1 a.m., i think) and i get the impression it was a night show so all that sounds fucking exhausting. (the bodies were identified by carroll anderson, the man who drove them to the airfield, btw.)

oh, speaking of the coin toss... well, these were the early days when people still called it "rock N roll" so, you know... there weren't that many controversaries yet. anyway, there is a debate about the fucking coin toss. o.k., one site has the statements from the parties in contention. one guy wrote a fucking novella about it and another guy wrote like four sentences.

here goes the mc for the show, bob hale, says he did the coin toss right after buddy holly hired the plane which was before the end of the show. he says he says goodbye to "the boys" as carroll anderson drove them to the airport in his car. the other guy was tommy allsup who was the guitar player for the crickets. he says it was right after the show, ritchie asked him about the seat again, so they flipped for it. he says they used a 50 cent piece which he still has. he says no one else was around. i find his story more credible because the plane was hired FOR THE CRICKETS and he didn't ramble on about "why don't we just remember the boys". but, like i fucking know. hell, for all anyone knows maybe there were two different coin tosses for some reason. apparently, the makers of "la bamba" believe allsup because it's tommy who is tossing the coin with ritchie in the movie (although it's at the airfield because it's a fucking movie).

there is also the completely stupid rumor that the plane was named "american pie". it's wrong (duh). the plane wasn't named anything because it was a small plane meant to ferry people around the area. and before the song (or the movie, i guess, although the movie is totally non-buddy holly related) there would be no reason to name a plane something like that. in fact, it would be bad for business. people eat pies. do you want to make them believe your plane is something that might be eaten, like by death? i don't think so. yeah, i take branding seriously.

but, i do have some numbers for ya'll. plane tail number was N3794N. model 35, serial #D-1019. manufactured 10-47. purchased by dwyer 6-58. the model name was beechcraft bonanza (possibly beechcraft bonanza galaxy... dammit that sounds like it would fly, doesn't it?). here is a picture of a plane just like it

the same site has some color photos taken by fans of buddy holly, j.p. richardson, and ritchie valens at other shows on this tour. here are a couple of pages... and

more details about the plane people... the plane company was dwyer flying service which was mostly the owner jerry dwyer. it was in MASON CITY, iowa. sorry, lost my mind there for a minute, but synch bloggers would point that out for you.

the pilot was roger peterson, age 21 (you know, back in the day, they just let young people do all sorts of things.. but no FUCKING WAY would i get on a plane flown by some kid at night in winter in iowa, but then i can think 'that's what buddy holly did and he died' and they didn't have that advantage).

dwyer saw the takeoff (he'd been elsewhere previously) and tried to raise peterson on the radio. when he couldn't he got into another plane (i guess he had at least two) and soon found the crash site which so happened to be in a field owned by albert (and delbert) juhl. the aforementioned coroner (or acting coroner) was dr. ralph smiley.

word of this got out.. as it would, but they kept people away from the crash. it seems they left things kind of as is until they could take some daytime photos (this turns out to be wrong due to the plane not being found until daylight... hours after the actual crash) because i saw one of those with dead bodies and stuff. so sad. the pilot, peterson, was the only person who was still inside the plane. he had to be cut out of it.

i know now why people are coming up with elaborate reasons why the plane crashed. it hit the ground HARD. final conclusion... welllll, i don't think they know why exactly. but they decided that peterson must have thought they were going up not down. it was determined the engine was working so that wasn't it.

a quick aside... you know what DID survive the crash? their fucking luggage! and because people will do things like this, someone placed it in a neat little stack and took a picture of it for the records. that's sad, too, i think. because someone's personal possessions become sort of meaningless after they die. but, what else can you do but collect the luggage and put it in a neat pile? yes, their families would want it... but still... the only people who it would be really important to didn't need it any more.

anyway, back to weird stuff about the crash... they were traveling happily along and hit the ground. the plane had been banking into a turn and the rate of climb was forever stuck at 3,000 feet per minute. except it was descending 3,000 feet per minute... not ascending. the airspeed indicator was stuck between 165-170 mph. landing gear was up. radio transmitter was set to mason city and was working. new gauges had been installed in this plane and peterson didn't know them... i really do not know what they looked like, but i am sure the exact instrument panel is on the internet somewhere.

so, anyway, peterson was making this turn and he banked and instead of pointing the nose of the plane up he apparently pointed it down. so the crash reflects that... there wasn't any hesistation or anything. it hit left wing first digging a long furrow into the earth. then the body hit and bounced. when the wing tore off and the plane hit again its passengers were thrown from the plane. buddy holly was found 12 feet southwest of the crash, ritchie valens was found 10 feet south of the crash. for some reason we don't know the direction (i know now, it was northwest) the big bopper took, but he went 40 feet into another field (a picked corn field, actually). so, i guess that's why people thought he was "going for help." the plane traveled 570 feet after first impact.

finally, to prove that the police don't pay too much attention to things that get rockstars killed... a certain envelope marked "charles hardin holley rec'd april 7, 1959" (where the fuck was it from february 2nd to april 7th, and interesting date.. 4-7, hm) turned up in the cerro gordo county sheriff's office back in february 1980. it contained buddy holly's eyeglasses, j.p. richardson's watch, a lighter and some dice. apparently, these items were returned to the families. i don't know that the same people were at the sheriff's office in 1959 and in 1980. but i would doubt it. i guess it's possible that the items were laying in the field until april and they were turned in at that time.

plane parts scattered for 540 feet across the field. of course, the plane itself and its bigger parts were dragged off to be examined, but there were things here and there you know.. like guns and eyeglasses. (the coroner's report says the gun was in buddy holly's overnight case... this makes me wonder about the gun story ... were there two guns? i am not sure.

i don't know... this is a weird story and a sad story... and i don't really want to look into much more because, by now, how much weird shit has happened? it just never ends. maybe it was just a plane crash, but it was a damned convenient plane crash that, had it not happened, could have spared us all a lot of crappy, crappy music.

ps... I fixed the links... I wrote this on pc and edited on cellphone... so hopefully that doesn't make it too wonky...

I don't know why I can't fix the links. they are from a site called: (i apologize for my mistakes previously... i was just looking for something else and i found more information... however, the info about this crash is rather confused because i found the information i posted previously in more than one place.)


Allen the Duck Guy said...

one thing i always respct about you shampoo is that you do your research. with so many bloggers just spitting out nonsense that they obviously haven't spent even ten minutes researching, it is always nice to read an informative blog like yours. it's very easy to tell you're a writer.:)
all that said, this has been a very interesting post. buddy holly was extraordinarily talented and his death was a great loss to music. there is no telling the innovation that would have hit rock and roll earlier if holly had lived.
ritchie valens and big bopper were tragic as well and i do not mean to sideline them, but i know less about them. valens had some fantastic music, though, and big bopper was hilarious.
their death is peculiar. maybe it is only my lack of knowledge in the mechanics of flying, but 'up' and 'down' seem like a couple of things that would be awfully difficult to confuse. i mean gravity still works, even in flight, doesn't it?

shampoo said...

well, thank you. the corrections i've added just go to show even doing research doesn't mean things will be perfect. of course, on the internet there's multiple sites with any story you wish.

it's strange this old story has more than one version, but it could be due to unclear writing and/or people relying on their own recollections.

whatever the case, this was a terrible loss to music.