The Day the Music Died

The Day the Music Died



A long long time ago
I can still remember how
That music used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And maybe they'd be happy for a while

But February made me shiver
With every paper I'd deliver
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn't take one more step

I can't remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride
Something touched me deep inside
The day the music died

These lyrics memorialized three of the brightest, shining stars in Rock ‘n Roll history.  After touring for weeks on the Winter Dance Party, braving a rickety bus packed with fellow musicians in the harsh winter weather of the Midwest, Buddy Holly chartered a plane to fly from Mason City to Fargo, North Dakota.  Originally, Waylon Jennings and Tommy Alsup were the two companions slated for remaining seats on that plane.

In what later became an unfortunate twist of fate, Jennings gave up his seat to The Big Bopper who was suffering from a nasty case of the flu.  Alsup took his chances in a coin flip with young Ritchie Valens, losing his spot on the plane that cold, February night.

What happened shortly after take-off from the Mason City airport soon became known as ‘The day the music died.’  The plane, carrying the three musicians, crashed into a field just North of Clear Lake, Iowa, killing everyone on board.

In 1979, local on-air visionary, Daryl “The Mad Hatter” Hensley, held a fictional interview during his radio program.  He told listeners there had been a time warp in the studio and Buddy Holly had just walked in.  During their conversation “Buddy” suggested a memorial concert to mark the 20th anniversary of his death.

The rest, as they say, is history.  As the event morphed over the years, it gained National recognition, pulling some of the biggest names in Rock ‘n Roll history, and drawing the attention of major media outlets.

The Winter Dance Party is still held each year at the Surf Ballroom, but is now a three-day music-filled event.  It’s become a celebration, an occasion to reminisce about a time in history where life was just a bit simpler.  A time of poodle skirts and bobby socks.  A time to dance, to remember back when Rock ‘n Roll was pure and true.  A time to honor the fallen musicians whose lives were cut short.

The event is a tribute to the day the music died by keeping the spirit of Rock 'n Roll alive.

For a full listing of activities during the Winter Dance Party 2018, please visit

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