Wednesday, March 10, 2010

buddy's gun and the winter dance party of 1959

back in 1959, rock and roll was still fairly new, but it was growing in popularity. it sounds as if fans were kind of here and there around the nation. so, to make the most of this new genre (and to make some $$$ in the dismal winter months), a winter tour of some of the top acts was organized. later, i'll post the particulars of whoall was on this tour and whereall they went, but for right now... i'm really only concerned with a few of the folks on this tour.

now, buddy holly and many of the other people performing around the country were from warmer climates than say, iowa and north dakota. perhaps this is why they had such an unsuitable tour bus. or maybe they just didn't have a lot of ready cash. the bus they hired, had problems relating to the cold weather. one poor dude even got frostbite ON THE BUS. this probably saved his life because he was in the hospital along about the time buddy holly and richie valens were taking turns filling in on the drums right before they died.

anyway, sick and tired of every stop taking way too long to get to (due to breakdowns and bad weather), buddy holly decided he would hire a plane. i'm not sure if it had been originally intended for him and the crickets (who were down a man). but, the plane only held one pilot and three passengers. by now everyone knows those passengers were buddy, richie valens (only 17 years old), and the big bopper a.k.a. j.p. richardson (28 years old with a pregnant wife at home).

here's another thing i thought was sort of a recent phenomenon... the big bopper was not only a rocker, he was a d.j. i don' t know if he ever brought two turntables and a microphone on stage with him, but before the winter dance party, he'd even earned a world record for playing over 1,000 records in a row in one marathon broadcast.

like so many other people we've heard of who have passed away at a young age lately, the big bopper was suffering from "flu-like symptoms" or, well, he full on had the flu. he wanted to get where he was going and get some sleep before the next show. he asked waylon jennings for his seat on the plane that fateful night. after some joking around that no one wants to come back to haunt them (j.p. said he hoped the bus broke down, waylon said he hoped the plane crashed), waylon gave up his seat on the plane and moved to the bus. waylon was in the crickets at that time, btw.

many years later, richardson's son jay (the baby the big bopper's wife was carrying when he died) confronted waylon jennings on his tour bus to finally get some answers about his dad. given all celebrities are overly sheltered half the time and thrown to the wolves the other half, people offered to throw jay off the bus until waylon realized who he was. apparently, finally talking about it was helpful, for both of them.

meanwhile, richie valens ASKED to ride on the plane because he'd never ridden on a small plane before. a winter night is maybe not the greatest time to pick, but richie was only 17 years old and, i suppose, if any of them really thought they were in danger they would have stayed on the ground.

then there's the pilot whose name i can't recall just now... (i'll look it up the next time). there are a few important facts about him i do recall... he was only 21 years old and really wasn't certified to fly totally off his instruments (as in at night when looking at the window wouldn't help much). added to that, he apparently had been somewhat misinformed when it came to the weather. i am going to have to look into this more, but i think it is possible he may have been familiar with the airfield he was flying to... whatever the case, the cause of the accident would eventually be ruled "pilot error."

but here's the point of this particular post.. two months after the plane crashed, the farmer who owned the field it crashed into, found a gun. specifically, buddy holly's gun. this has led to some WILD SPECULATIONS over the years amongst... i'm not sure who is talking about this reguarly, i just heard about it.

to back up a second, buddy holly had recorded six songs not too long before he died, that some people believed reflected depression in his personal life. the songs are about love gone wrong (you know, the subject of 45% of all songs) and love lost (the subject of a 55% of all songs). some people take this to mean buddy holly was hella upset about the state of his recent marriage and the the fact he hadn't married his high school sweetheart.

so, taking a detour into crazyland, they decide the fact he had a gun on him meant he had probably committed suicide on the plane and then bullet had then gone over and killed the pilot dooming the other passengers. there's one teensie tiny problem with that.. the PILOT was autopsied after the crash. he had not been shot. i know forsenic science in 1959 was much more primitive than it is now, but i am pretty certain they could tell if someone had been shot or not.

even though buddy holly wasn't autopsied, several people who saw a lot of dead bodies given their line of work, saw him. even though he couldn't have been in good shape, they probably would've noticed if he'd shot himself in the head. i'm just guessing that and i suppose i could be wrong...

also, i have to wonder if buddy holly was even depressed at the time. and, if he was, if he was so depressed he'd kill himself in front of other people dooming them to (at best) travel with his gruesome remains or (at worst) to die. i mean... that is a pretty severe type of thing that doesn't really fit the rest of the story...

the family of j.p. richardson had to move his grave a few years ago and they took that opportunity to have someone examine his body. he had been found 40 feet from the crash site, leading some to believe he'd been alive and had tried to go for help. a forsenic anthropologist confirmed the injuries richardson had received were consistent with having been in a plane crash. the same expert also said that richardson, like everyone else on the plane, died on impact. oh, and no one had shot him.

a sad aside, jay richardson saw his father for the first time during this examination. fortunately, the big bopper had held up pretty well over the years. jay was born three months after his father died. however, everyone found out that the funeral home had done a good job of trying to hide j.p.'s injuries, but that he did indeed have many, many bad fractures. he had compound fractures of both legs and his skull was fractured just to name a few.

so, what is the point of buddy holly's gun? well, hell, the dude was from texas. it might have been nothing more than that. however, the idea that he could have taken a gun out and discharged it while everyone else in this SMALL metal container hurtling through the night is nuts. only people who have never been around guns can really believe that. let me say, NOTHING ELSE sounds like the action of a gun. so, i would think if anyone hauled out a gun on a small plane.. it wouldn't go unnoticed. i don't know... this seems like an overly complicated way to explain why the plane crashed.

i'm not sure if this is 100% of a crazy theory or if there's some logic behind it somewhere. i'm also not sure why finding a gun leads to all this strange speculations.. maybe some think for it to be found by itself it couldn't have been in a bag or a coat pocket or whatever gun-storage place there may have been?


Anonymous said...

i wonder if the gun showed signs of having been discharged.

shampoo said...

it was found two months later... after lying in an iowa field for two months in winter (it had probably fallen into snow). however, one thing they could do, and maybe they did... how many bullets?

although, if it was a revolver, some people leave the chamber under the hammer empty anyway as kind of a "safety."

probably most of the people who saw buddy holly had seen people who'd been shot... so, injuries and powder burns are something they might notice. whether they would tell the general public, I don't know...

it sounds like no one came up with the elaborate shooting scenario until the gun was found.

a dude from texas, riding around the wilds of the northern midwest in a rickety bus, having a gun doesn't seem suspicious to me.

one reason I can think of he might have taken it out is maybe he was cleaning or oiling it?

also, i'm going to need some other piece of evidence besides some sad songs to say he was THAT suicidal. because that is pretty hardcore.

they have re-created the winter dance party in branson. weird, since a lot of people talk about what a dismal affair it was.

Anonymous said...

so, do you think buddy holly first took a gallon of heroin before he killed himself? i mean, with his dark 'suicide rock' grimming out like a dirge over the airwaves, it seems obvious that he must have been tortured by his fame and killed himself because he was a coward.

or, you know, not.

i didn't know big bopper was a dj. man, what a loss to the music industry to lose dj's. the robo-j's just aren't the same. with that voice and sense of humor, i bet he was awesome at that job.

shampoo said...

buddy holly was hardcore. he set up a motorfucking meth lab in that plane, then a rival gang parachuted in and blam!

anyway, i need to do more research.

yeah, the big bopper was a funny guy. i laugh every time i hear "hot rod lincoln."

Anonymous said...

Buddy Holly, original gangsta. And you thought only his appearance was badass.