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Lubbock's Buddy Holly and the Crickets, helped turn rock 'n' roll toward a rhythm-and-blues muscial style.

Buddy Holly 'coming back home'

1959 The body of Buddy Holly, popular 22-year old singing star from Lubbock who was killed in an airplane crash near Mason City, Iowa, Tuesday, is scheduled to be returned here by chartered plane today for funeral services and burial.

Holly, two other rock 'n roll singing idols, and the pilot of their chartered plane all were killed early Tuesday when the craft plunged into a snow-swept Iowa field. The four-place plane crashed within minutes after taking off in light snow from the Mason City airport.

The two singers with Holly were Ritchie Valens, 17, Los Angeles, and J.P. (Big Bopper) Richardson, 28, Beaumont. Roger Peterson, 21, of Clear Lake, Iowa, was the pilot.

Rock 'n' roll pioneer Buddy Holly was killed in an airplance crash in 1959, along with stars Ritchie Valens and J.P. "Big Bopper" Richardson.

Holly was the son of Mr. and Mrs. L.O. Holley, 1606 39th St. An error in the spelling of his name in the singer's first contract - the dropping of the "e" - resulted in a difference between his professional name and that of his parents. His father said the youth never bothered to correct the mistake.

The three singers, members of a rock 'n roll troupe touring Midwest cities, died because they wanted to make a fast hop between dates so they could get their shirts laundered. Fate took a hand in the crash in one other way and the flight narrowly missed cancellation.

The troupe with which Valens, Holly and Richardson had appeared had entertained an estimated 1,100 teen-agers and their parents at a ballroom in Clear Lake, near Mason City, Monday night. The chartered plane was to take the three singers to Fargo, N.D., in advance of the troupe's engagement there. The others went by chartered bus. All were scheduled for an appearance in nearby Moorhead, Minn.

Waylon Jennings, bass player with the troupe whose wife and two daughters live in Littlefield, originally was scheduled to accompany Holly and Valens on the flight.

But before takeoff, Richardson, complaining that his large size did not permit comfortable sleeping on the bus, asked to replace Jennings. The request was granted.

Ironically, Rod Lucier, promoter of the tour, had tried to cancel the Moorhead appearance because of a gathering Midwest snow storm. He telephoned the group's agency Monday night trying to call off the next appearance. Meanwhile, the plane carrying the singers took off.

Each of the three singers had soared to popularity among the teenage rock 'n roll set in recent years. Hollywood trade sources said the combined record sales of the three rock 'n rollers was in the millions.

Holly was the star of the Crickets, a recording group which he organized and which was accompanying him on the tour. The Lubbock youth hit the rock 'n roll pinnacle with his recordings of "Peggy Sue," "That'll Be The Day" and "Early In The Morning."

A new recording, "It Doesn't Matter Any More," recently was listed among the top sellers. Holly listed about 44 recordings to his credit, including three albums.

When the four-seat, single-engine plane carrying the three singers crashed, it skidded across the snow for 558 feet. The body of Valens was thrown 40 feet. Richardson and Holly were found 20 feet from the plane.

The bodies of the singers were so badly mangled they were barely recognizable.

Rock 'n' roll legend Buddy Holly, whose last name Holley was misspelled in his first contract, was laid to rest in Lubbock in 1959 after he died in a plane crash.

Deputy Coroner Ralph E. Smiley said the plane did not burn. However, Peterson's body was wedged so tightly in the wreckage it had to be cut loose with torches.

The wreckage and bodies were not discovered until long after dawn. The other members of the troupe did not learn of their companions' fate until they reached Fargo.

Authorities tentatively blamed weather conditions for the crash. Along with the light snow, the temperature was 18 degrees and a southerly wind was gusting at 35 miles an hour.

The left wingtip of the plane apparently struck the ground first and flew off. Pieces of wreckage ripped off as the plane plowed across the field and piled up against a wire fence.

Holly leaves a bride of less than six months. He was married last Aug. 15 to Maria Elena Santiago, a receptionist at Southern Music Publishing Co. in New York.

Mrs. Holly is scheduled to arrive here by plane today.

Holly's father said Tuesday night the singer's brother, Larry, 4803 17th St. and brother-in-law, J.E. Weir, 2307 49th St., were to fly to Mason City to make arrangements for return of the body.

A plane from West Texas Aircraft here will go to Mason City early today. A company spokesman said the plane would return, weather permitting, about 8 or 10 p.m. today.

Holly's survivors include the wife; parents; two brothers, Larry and Travis D. Holley, 5621 44th St., a sister, Mrs. Weir; the maternal grandmother, Mrs. Eva P. Drake, 1606 39th St.; and the paternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. John Holley, Commerce.

Funeral arrangements are pending at Sanders Funeral Home.

Holly was described by friends as "probably one of the biggest entertainment celebrities ever to hail from Lubbock."

The young singer broke into the "big time" two years ago this summer when he organized The Crickets, a rock 'n roll quartet which made several appearances on national television.

The Crickets' rendition of "That'll Be The Day," their first record, sold over a million copies. "Peggy Sue" was another of their best sellers.

Holly had composed a number of songs including "Love Me," "Don't Come Back Knocking," "Words of Love," "Look at Me," and "Little Baby."

He started with music at the age of 8 on violin. When he was 15 he switched to guitar and accompanied himself on his songs.

Holly broke with the Crickets about three months ago in a harmonious move.

Since the break he had recorded "It Doesn't Matter Any More," and "Raining In My Heart," with a full orchestra in the background.

Holly's parents said that though he broke with the original Crickets, the young singer organized a second group under the same name early last month. The new group was accompanying him on the cross-country tour at his death.

The record had been gaining in popularity, according to nationwide polls.

The A-J Remembers The Most Important People in Lubbock's History

SPECIAL SECTIONS: 1909-1933 / 1934-1958 / 1959-1983 / 1984-PRESENT | PRINT VERSION