Friday, February 3, 2023

Remembering The Day The Music Died

Here's an update from LJ Coon on his efforts to reopen the investigation into the fateful plane crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens 64 years ago today. 

A lot has happened since we first broke this story several years ago ...

Including efforts to make a new film called "Clear Lake" 

**The Final Hours of The Clear Lake Iowa Aviation Accident February 3, 1959** 

There is currently a 2023 Movie in the making - 

The Movie is called  'Clear Lake'  and my song 'Pretty Blue Eye's - Pretty Blue Eye's'  has caught The Writer-Director-Producers' attention, who recognized it as being  "Very Buddy Holly."

From Patrick Shanahan: 
LJ ... Wow! Now this is really amazing. 
So you're telling me The Crashed Aircraft is still in it's crumpled state somewhere!!??  I just read the reports you sent and This is Fascinating. Absolutely Fascinating.   
It's wild that most everything you read talks about the snow storm, but this is strong evidence otherwise. Extremely Interesting! 
Thank you for sharing.  
Honestly, I think the song 'Pretty Blue Eye's - Pretty Blue Eye's' is absolutely beautiful. Very Buddy Holly!" 

From Rick French:
L J, Nicely done ...'Pretty Blue Eye's - Pretty Blue Eye's' ...
When I’m ready, and the time is right, I will be in touch".

The Movie 'Clear Lake' 
As Buddy Holly - Ruairi O'Connor  was born on July 9, 1991 in County Dublin, Ireland.
As Maria Elena Holly - Diane Guerrero  was born July 21, 1986 in Passaic, New Jersey.
As Norman Petty - Colin Lewes Hanks  was Born November 24, 1977 in Sacramento, California.
As Chuck Berry - Nelly (Cornell Iral Haynes Jr.)  was Born November 2, 1974 in Austin, Texas.

Produced by  
Stuart Benjamin ... producer 
Peter Bradley Jr. ... associate producer 
Debbie Cooper ... co-producer 
Kathy Rivkin Daum ... producer / BMG
Stephen Easley ... associate producer 
Rick French         ... producer 
David Hirshland ... producer / BMG
Maria Elena Holly ... associate producer 
Colby Jensen         ... co-producer 
Patrick Shanahan ... co-producer
All of The Historic Photos ...
*Buddy Holly   *Ritchie Valens   *The Big Bopper (J P Richardson)
The Historic Songs, The 1959 Tour Bus, The Miles They All Traveled in weather below zero, The Many 'One Night' Performances ... The Personal Stories, Their Individual Histories, The Historic 'Coin Toss' at The Surf Ballroom.
That fateful night ... Tuesday, February 3, 1959, that will forever be known as The Day The Music Died ... 
The Dwyer Flying Service, The Historic 1948 Beechcraft Bonanza35 V-Tail Known as 'The Doctor Killer' ... The 21 year old Pilot 'Roger Peterson' that was trusted with Three of The World's 1950's Music Geniuses
You'll find it all here in this new film, Clear Lake
**The Final Hours of The Clear Lake, Iowa Aviation Accident February 3, 1959** 
(The following was an Unbelievable amount of activity to cram into :58 minutes, Unbelievable, No Really Unbelievable) 
Just prior to their performance at 8:00 p.m. Buddy Holly reached out to Surf-Ballrooms Mr. Carroll Anderson to charter an Airplane for that night.
The Surf-Ballroom Performance February 2, 1959 
8:00 p.m. to 12:00 Midnight
'Aircraft Departure Time was 12:58 a.m. February 3, 1959'

Their performance ended at Midnight with ( :58 minutes to get out to The Airport ) and 'That Just Didn't Happen' ... or did it!
(The following was an Unbelievable amount of activity to cram into :58 minutes, Unbelievable, No Really Unbelievable) 
:58 minutes 
to get out to The Airport!
'Tick-Tock / Tick-Tock'

An additional 3-song encore  :15 minutes
Signing The Surf-Ballrooms Wall of Fame  :10 minutes
Autographs signing  :10 minutes
Bathroom stop  :10 minutes
Clothing change  :10 minutes
Instruments being packed up  :10 minutes
Loading everything onto the bus  :10 minutes
The Ritchie Valens coin toss  :10 minutes
The last minute passenger swap  :10 minutes 
'Tick-Tock / Tick-Tock'
The actual drive to The Mason City Iowa Airport  :15 minutes
'Tick-Tock / Tick-Tock'
Arrival At The Mason City Airport
They ALL unloaded from Mr. Carroll Anderson's station wagon  :10 minutes 
They ALL said what they needed to say to each other  :10 minutes 
They loaded what they needed to load into the baggage area of the Airplane  :10 minutes 
They decided at the Airport the surprisingly different passenger seating arrangement  :10 minutes 
*The Airplane owner Jerry Dwyer insisted on personally securing the Bonanza's baggage door compartment  :10 minutes 
Once they were All loaded in to the Airplane They began the Airplane Taxi process  :10 minutes 
They reached the Aircraft run-up point  :10 minutes 
Then they taxied to the departure point on the Airport  :10 minutes  
The Departure process begins 
'Tick-Tock / Tick-Tock'
(So ... Which of the above didn't they have time to do in :58 minutes?)
'Aircraft Departure Time was at 12:58 a.m. February 3, 1959'
(The above was an Unbelievable amount of activity to cram into :58 minutes, Unbelievable, No Really Unbelievable) 

"When you have eliminated the impossible,  Whatever remains,  However improbable,  Must be the truth"
'Safety studies of the Beech Bonanza-35 V-Tail were conducted by Beech Aircraft and Cornell University. 
'The low-wing design, and strong crash-resistant cabin compartment 
would protect passengers during a Forced Landing'.  
"Beech Aircraft Corp."

Four occupants of The 1948 Beech Bonanza-35 V-Tail February 3, 1959 following their performance at The Surf Ballroom Clear Lake, Iowa:
*Richie Valens - *Buddy Holly - *The Big Bopper (J P Richardson) and Pilot Roger Peterson

Following The February 3, 1959 Aviation Accident in Clear Lake, Iowa:
The Beech Aircraft Corporation and Cornell University conducted a 'Safety Study' on The Beech Bonanza-35 V-Tail
The findings were as followed: 
'The low-wing design, and strong crash-resistant cabin compartment would protect passengers during a Forced Landing'.   
The February 3, 1959 Aviation Accident at Clear Lake, Iowa was just that, a 'Forced Landing'
With a Total of 4-occupants on board ... with just 3.5 minutes into The Flight (something was afoot)
1.) Pilot Roger Peterson Leveled off The 1948 Beech Bonanza-35 V-Tail at 800 feet that evening February 3, 1959 at 12:58 a.m.
2.) Pilot Roger Peterson  placed The Aircraft in a Slow Descent  (as in a 'Forced Landing')
3). Pilot Roger Peterson turned The Aircraft Landing Light back on  (as in a 'Forced Landing')
4). Pilot Roger Peterson selected to leave the landing gear in the Up position 
(as in a 'Forced Landing')
5). Pilot Roger Peterson selected / and  turned The Aircrafts Keyed Power Magneto Switch to The OFF position a 3-step turn of a Key just prior to the touchdown on the Iowa frozen farm field  (as in a 'Forced Landing')

**As of January 2023 ... The Cornell University Department of Aerospace / Engineering / Physics has been invited to review the following Investigative documents and Historic photos.**

455 Investigative pages with Historic photos
Wife and Partner / Owner  'Dwyer Flying Service'  February 3, 1959 
Barbara Jean (Sams) Dwyer
My name is Barbara Jean, 'Barbara Jean (Sams) Dwyer'
I was born Saturday April 2, 1932, in Sioux City, Iowa
I attended Sioux City Iowa Schools and after spending a year in bed with rheumatic fever I was Valedictorian of my graduating class The Class of 1944Following high school, I attended Morningside College then St. Luke's College of Nursing. This is where I met the love of her life, Hubert Jerome Dwyer, we were married six months later. We met at a dance for nursing students and military personnel, It was love at first sight. Jerry and I were married October 4, 1952  and we moved to Oelwein, Iowa, where Jerry and I opened up The Dwyer Flying Service. By 1955 Jerry was The youngest Cessna Dealership owner World Wide. I was 25 and Jerry was 27 and in 1957 we moved our Aviation business to The Mason City Iowa Airport. The Dwyer Flying Service was certified by The FAA to conduct operations both Day and Night under VFR conditions Only. We hired several employees and accumulated multiple aircraft. I had just hung up the phone with our Aircraft Insurance company when in walked a young man who wanted to Fly airplanes with us. 'I have been flying since I was 14' He offered, and introduced himself as Roger Peterson from Alta, Iowa. A good looking young man with a brilliant smile and a politeness any parent would be proud of.  After going over all the business 
side of things with Mr. Peterson I assured Him that as far as I was concerned He was Hired but would have to wait for Jerry to get back from being out of town, He would be the final wordWell, Jerry hired the young Pilot from Alta, Iowa (Roger Peterson) Roger married his high school sweetheart Deanne Lenz in September of 1958. Deana worked at KGLO-TV. They moved to Clear Lake and lived in the North Shore area. Deana continued to work at the TV station and Roger at The Dwyer Flying Service. They’d had only been married five months before the accident. Deana recalls preparing dinner Monday evening for Roger and Her in the final hours they had together before He would be leaving for The Mason City Airport. He and Jerry began preparing The Bonanza N3794N for the late night 90 minute flight to Fargo. Jerry said that He personally needed to make sure that The Baggage Door latch was secured (It needed to be turned a particular way) to be locked.
We were all out at the Airport after midnight when Mr. Carroll Anderson from the Surf Ballroom brought over our three passengers in His station-wagon along with His wife and child. They loaded into The Bonanza and we all watched as they taxied for departure. Jerry was up on the Airport Tower roof platform with the Control Tower operator. We watched as The plane took off to the south, turned left, and came back over the airport headed towards Fargo. Jerry and The Control Tower Operator watched as our plane's lights slowly looked like it was descending (The Control Tower operator offered that it was just an illusion). The Control Tower operator tried to reach N3794N multiple times. Jerry made phone calls to every one that he could and asked about the planes progress. He continued this effort throughout the night into the early morning hour. At first daylight Jerry launched His own rescue search in our other airplane. As Jerry flew in the last known direction of Bonanza N3794N it was only minutes until He saw our plane on the open frozen farm field. Jerry returned to The Mason City Airport and notified Authorities as He rushed out to the farm field and our downed aircraft he had seen from His previous air rescue search. By 5:00 p.m. Tuesday February 3, 1959  They were out at the accident site and loaded our airplane onto a flatbed. They brought it back to The Mason City Airport and placed it in one of the hangers. For 32 hours, Piece by piece they pulled our airplane apart.  As each day passed and The FAA, The CAB, and The Beechcraft Corporation were preparing their reports, Jerry would offer many times over ... You have to remember, I was the only one there and I kept some of the wreckage. There’s a reason I still have it, It backs up What Really Caused This Crash. This is gonna stir things up, and some folks are not gonna like what I have to say, but They would not let Jerry speak at any of the hearings / inquires.  

On October 11, 1930, Hubert Jerome (Jerry) Dwyer was born the son of Martin James and Martha Louise (Rexroat) Dwyer, in Chicago, Ill. 
Jerry was the youngest of four children. At age 11, Jerry left home abruptly and sought out safety. Many months later, unable to make it on his own, Jerry went to Mattoon, Ill., to live with his grandparents, James and Edna Rexroat. Jerry’s grandparents lived close to the Mattoon airport, which sparked Jerry's interest. Jerry would climb the fence and go to the airport and mow the lawn and help clean the shop. At age 13, the owner took Jerry under his wing and gave Jerry a job and taught Jerry how to fly an airplane and how to fix one, too. 
When Jerry was 15 years old, Jerry bought his first airplane, but was too young to own it, so they had to license it in Jerry's grandmother’s name. His grandparents showed Jerry love and instilled a great work ethic and a firm belief in Jerry. 
In 1948 Jerry attended and graduated from Mattoon High School, where he participated in football and track. Jerry was an Illinois State Champion in the 880 yard run. 
Jerry studied Aeronautical Engineering at the University of Illinois, in Champagne.
Jerry earned his mechanic’s A & P license. 
Jerry accepted a job as a mechanic with famed aviation Pioneer, Roscoe Turner, of Ozark Airlines in Indianapolis, Indiana. 
Jerry was activated into the Air Force and sent to Sioux City, Iowa, to help open up an air base and train mechanics and crew chiefs. 
Jerry also worked for the famous aviator, Tommy Martin. 
While in Sioux City, Jerry would meet the love of his life and wife of 63 years, 'Barbara Jean Sams'. They met at a mixer for the servicemen and local nursing students. It was love at first sight, Those Big Blue Eyes and six months later on October 4,1952, they were married at the Leeds Methodist Church, in Sioux City, Iowa. On the morning of Jerry's wedding, Jerry sold his beloved Monocoup Airplane to pay for the marriage license. 

The Rock & Roll Tour From Hell: 

No heat on the tour bus, below zero temperatures, shivering, and huddling under blankets. 
22-year-old Buddy Holly, was from Lubbock, Texas 
17-year-old Ritchie Valens, from California’s San Fernando Valley
19-year-old Dion DiMucci of Dion and the Belmonts from the New York Bronx
28-year-old J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, a radio DJ from Beaumont, Texas whose signature song, “Chantilly Lace” (“Hel-lo, bay-bee…. You know what I like!”), was a recent Top 10 hit.        
The musicians had kicked off their scheduled three-week tour on January 23rd at the Million Dollar Ballroom in Milwaukee. Playing grueling one-night stands and crisscrossing Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa in a series of breaking-down buses, they were now, in the early hours of Sunday, February 1st, heading down Highway 51 on a 300-mile journey to Appleton, Wisconsin, from their Duluth, Minnesota, performance, where they performed for an audience that included 17-year-old Hibbing, Minnesota, senior-year high school student Bobby Zimmerman (It was a concert that never escaped his mind).  Bob Dylan would later remark that it seemed “as if there was a halo around Buddy’s head.” Down on Highway 51, nearing the town of Hurley, Wisconsin, in the early hours of the morning, a piston had gone through the engine block of their tour bus. In the pitch darkness and with no heat, the musicians, stranded for several hours until rescued by passing motorists, burned newspapers in the aisle as Buddy huddled under a blanket to keep warm. One of the Belmonts had a bottle of scotch that was passed around. Flash Forward to Clear Lake, Iowa, a town of about 8,000 that was once known as “Iowa’s Fun Capital.”  Opening in 1934, The Surf Ballroom was a one-story hangar like structure. Inside, clouds are projected on the ballroom’s blue-painted domed ceiling and faux palm trees flank the stage. However, Back on The Bus - It was 19 below zero when The Winter Dance Party musicians boarded another bus still in Green Bay, Wisconsin, for the 340-mile journey to Clear Lake, Iowa, but near Prairie du Chien, the heaters, as if on schedule, failed once again and had to be repaired. They finally arrived at The Clear Lake, Iowa Surf Ballroom just in time to perform their 8 p.m. show for the more than 1,200 teens who had paid $1.25 to attend. (As The Clear Lake, Iowa Surf Ballroom concert was coming to an end a countdown to 12:55 a.m. Tuesday February 3, 1959 had begun)

The Concert:
Alan Mitchell, a former Chicago radio disc jockey was at The Surf that night with his girlfriend, and recalls, "I was 15 years old and was wearing my Thompson High School letter jacket. I have to chuckle when I remember my ducktail and lots of BrylCreem — ‘A little dab will do ya.’  We looked very cool then . . . and the girls did, too, with their poodle skirts, capris, froufrous and rabbit-fur collars."
Throughout the tour ... The Big Bopper sported a Stetson and a three-quarter leopard-skin coat that he called Melvin.  Ritchie Valens dressed in a blue satin shirt, black bolero and vaquero pants.  Buddy Holly and the Crickets were clothed in black jackets, gray slacks and ascots.  At the Surf Ballroom that night, they performed their hits, and for the finale they all came onstage for a jam that included  “Brown Eyed Handsome Man,” “La Bamba” and “Great Balls of Fire.”
On the bus ride to Clear Lake, Buddy Holly decided he’d had enough of the road. They needed their laundry washed and Buddy envisioned a comfortable bed and a good night’s sleep if only he could fly to the next stop after the Surf Ballroom show.  Fargo, their next destination, was some 400 miles northwest of Clear Lake.  Buddy asked the Surf Ballroom manager to charter a flight from the nearby Mason City airport to Fargo. 
The Dwyer’s Flying Service ( Jerry and Barb Dwyer) contacted one of their pilots, 21 year old Pilot Roger Peterson, to fly Dwyer Flying Service's red and white, single-engine 1948 Beechcraft Bonanza four-seater. 

The flight to Fargo cost $108, and Buddy asked Tommy Allsup, Waylon Jennings and The Big Bopper if they would like to split the cost. Ritchie Valens asked Tommy Allsup for his seat: Tommy Allsup replied. “Let’s flip a coin for it.”  
I flipped a 50-cent piece and said ‘Call it.’  Ritchie said, ‘Heads,’ and it came down heads.”  Just after 12:30 a.m., on Tuesday, February 3rd, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper climbed into the back seat of the plane with all of the musicians’ dirty laundry, and Buddy sat next to the pilot.  Shortly before 1 a.m. The Dwyer Flying Service 1948 Beechcraft Bonanza-35 departed on runway-17 (Visibility 6 miles and ceiling 3,000 feet)  The Aircraft climbed southbound and in a left climbing turn came back around over The Mason City Airport on a northwest heading and leveled off at 800 feet. Five adults witnessed the aircraft flying back over the airport as owner Jerry Dwyer stood on the roof platform of the control tower.

'There was no Hollywood Snow Storm' ... It wasn't snowing, It wasn't sprinkling, it was just Cold ... (Visibility 6 miles and ceiling 3,000 feet) The aircraft leveled off at 800 feet and continued on to the northwest for a total of 3.5 minutes with its nose pointed into the wind The estimated ground speed would have been 105 mph over the ground.  (Visibility 6 miles and ceiling 3,000 feet) With the 3,000 foot ceiling and leveling off at 800 feet, the ceiling would have been equivalent to 10-statue of Liberties stacked on top of each other.

'Safety studies of the Beech Bonanza-35 V-Tail were conducted by Beech Aircraft and Cornell University.  'The low-wing design, and strong crash-resistant cabin compartment would protect passengers during a Forced Landing'.  
-- "Beech Aircraft Corp."


Jerry Dwyer and wife Barbara Jean Sams Dwyer: 
They wouldn't let him speak ...They wouldn't let me speak at any of the hearings / inquires February, 1959
"This is gonna stir things up, and some folks are not gonna like what I have to say. But you have to remember: I was the only one there and I kept some of the wreckage. There’s a reason I still have it.  It backs up what really caused this crash."

(The Final Hours of The Clear Lake Iowa Aviation Accident February 3, 1959)  
An Investigative look at What Really Happened 'The Day The Music Died' 

The Bopper ( J P Richardson )

Buddy Holly                                                          
Richie Valens
Pilot:  Roger Peterson

Richie Valens - Was in his (Harris & Drank) black wool overcoat, (Sobel's) black wool suit and white shirt
$22.15 cash 
Hollywood California Bank office - an advance payment as per contract
$50.00 check #359
$50.00 check #360
1 bracelet with Donna on it
1 silver crucifix - 1 religious medal - a brown leather pocket case with black lacing and stamped design

Buddy Holly - Was in beige leather overcoat right next to Richie Valens
$193.00 cash
2 cuff links
silver 1/2 balls on jeweled band and the top portion of a ball point pen

The Big Bopper ( J P Richardson ) - Was over the Fence Line in the adjacent field in his red checkered flannel shirt and light blue cotton pants
$272.53 cash
1 gold wedding ring
1 small gold colored key
1 pair of dice
1 guitar pick
1 black billfold
Texas drivers license 
Musicians card 

Pilot:  Roger Peterson - Is still in The Aircraft in His black dress pants and western boots
$20.00 cash
$130.55 check #1510 dated 1-31-1959 from (Dwyer Flying Service)
1 Lord Elgin wristwatch
2 sets of keys in leather cases
a black billfold
drivers license

L J Coon
Author: 'The Edge of Living'
Author: 'The Final Hours of The Clear Lake Aviation Accident February 3, 1959'
Author: 'Livin in The Country Lane'