The plane that didn’t crash

Okay, let’s suppose for a moment that the Winter Dance Party tour had been completed as originally scheduled, instead of crashing to a halt in the middle of an Iowa cornfield fifty years ago. What would have happened? Let’s speculate.

Buddy Holly had just split from the Crickets and was attempting a solo career which at the time really wasn’t going anywhere. He did, however, have a couple of assets: a major label that wasn’t at the time in the habit of dumping slumping acts, and a portfolio of songs that would prove eminently coverable in years to come. Holly had already gone to New York to cut “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore”; it doesn’t seem unreasonable to think that he might have ended up as a songwriter somewhere in the general vicinity of the Brill Building. (Then again, “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” wasn’t one of his own; Paul Anka wrote it.)

J. P. Richardson, aka the Big Bopper, also had songwriting chops: he wrote “Running Bear” (Johnny Preston) and “White Lightning” (George Jones). “White Lightning” in particular gave him Nashville credibility; like many rock and roll acts — think Brenda Lee, Conway Twitty, or Wanda Jackson — he could have transitioned to country rather easily.

Ritchie Valens, I suspect, would have reclaimed the rest of his surname, which was “Valenzuela,” and become Carlos Santana before Carlos Santana ever did.

And Don McLean, bless him, would be better known for that lovely little song about Vincent van Gogh.

Alternate theories are welcomed.


  1. fillyjonk »

    3 February 2009 · 8:26 am

    Interesting. I wonder if Holly would have wound up as a sort of impresario a la Phil Spector (but without the horrifying weirdness later on life). I could see him managing a number of vocal groups.

    I think I agree with you on the other two.

  2. Don Smith »

    3 February 2009 · 10:35 am

    Your ears burning? They are talking about us again: “I am checking my links yesterday and I came across this: BEST WRITING BLOG Dustbury – Already mentioned in another category, I’ve been reading this one for a long time. Always excellent writing. Creative Endeavors – Nice. I’m attracted to this one for some reason, in spite of the fairly dark tone of the writing and (Is it mean to say this?) the occasional misplaced apostrophe.” […]

    Nice post today, enjoyed it.


  3. CGHill »

    3 February 2009 · 10:45 am

    Which post? I crank out somewhere between three and six a day.

  4. Old Grouch »

    3 February 2009 · 11:36 am

    Or maybe:

    “Buddy Holly Theater” Branson, MO

  5. fillyjonk »

    3 February 2009 · 12:24 pm

    Yeah, actually, I can see Buddy Holly going Branson later in life. Even The Big Bopper, for that matter.

    Perhaps Richie Valen(zuela) would have wound up as some sort of minor politician – the mayor of San Diego, for example.

  6. John Owen Butler »

    3 February 2009 · 4:03 pm

    Or Buddy would have faded into obscurity in West Texas, later found by one of those “where are they now” TV programs, managing a Hastings Books and Records and channeling old 45s to some Chaz fellow who stumbled across his store on one of his annual grand tours.

  7. Don Smith »

    3 February 2009 · 11:46 pm

    The Buddy Holly and the plane crash post (“The Plane That Didn’t Crash”). I get those too. Nice post today, and I wonder, which post?

    I put up four.

    My apologies, I will be more specific next time.


  8. CGHill »

    4 February 2009 · 7:07 am

    Well, last time I went through Lubbock, which was the summer of ’08, I glued the radio to KDAV, where young Mr Holly once had a radio show.

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