Rock ‘n Roll fans in every nook and cranny of the globe know the story of the day the music died.  They’ve heard the stories, read the articles, seen the pictures.

They felt the loss along with the rest of us.

It was the night Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and JP “The Big Bopper” Richardson crashed into a field shortly after taking off from the Mason City airport.

As part of the Winter Dance Party tour, they had finished their gig at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake and decided to charter a plane to their next show instead of facing freezing temperatures for the 350-mile trek on the bus.

The next show, however, never happened for the trio of fallen stars.

Located at 22728 Gull Avenue in Clear Lake, Iowa, a memorial stands in a lone corn field.  A representation of where they found what was left of the plane.  Trinkets, flowers, American flags, and other memorabilia line the fence, marking the spot.

Still today, fans make the trek from far and wide to visit the crash site, to pay respects to some of the greatest founders in the history of Rock ‘n Roll.

**NOTE**  If you plan to visit during the winter months, you’ll want to make sure you have the proper outdoor attire, as there is walking involved.  Also, as the site is located on private property, we ask visitors to be respectful.

So, how do you get there?

  1. From US Hwy 18 in Clear Lake, go north on N. 8th Street for 4.7 miles (the road turns into Grouse Avenue).
  2. When the paved road curves to the west, take the gravel road to the east (310th Street), then immediately north again on gravel (Gull Avenue).
  3. Go north one-half mile.
  4. At the T-intersection of Gull Avenue and 315th Street, you will see a large set of “Buddy Holly” glasses.
  5. Walk along the south side of the fence row to the west about one-quarter mile.
  6. A small memorial is located at the place the plane came to rest.


It is a serene feeling to be standing in the midst of greatness, at the spot where they took their last breaths, wondering what could have been of these three musicians, had they not lost their lives so young.

Alas, it was their fate, it seems, etching their place in the history books for all time.  A fate we remember and hold dear to our hearts in Clear Lake, especially at the Surf Ballroom.

Because there, the music lives forever.