64 years since ‘The Day the Music Died’

Buddy Holly
Buddy Holly(MGN)
Published: Feb. 3, 2023 at 1:42 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 3, 2023 at 11:31 AM CST
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CLEAR LAKE, Iowa (KTTC) – Friday marks 64 years since Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper died in a plane crash just north of Clear Lake. The three were leaving a concert at the Surf Ballroom. Little did they know, they would be remembered at that ballroom nearly every day for decades to come.

The Winter Dance Parties continue, including this weekend.

Hundreds from all over will head to Clear Lake this weekend to get their taste of rock ‘n’ roll. One of those people, Connie Valens, Ritchie’s sister.

She says the day her brother died was one of the worst days of her life, second only to the passing of her mother. She remembers him heading to Iowa on tour.

“Mama told us he was going to be gone, and it was going to be really cold where he was going,” she said.

She added “he always came back,” but this time was different.

Ritchie was only 17 years old when he died in the plane crash.

Connie, originally from California, makes sure she always makes it back to Clear Lake on this weekend. She remembers the first time she stepped foot in the Surf Ballroom.

“I walked to the middle of the ballroom. I could just feel his presence. I walked to the stage, and put my hands on it, and for me at that moment, he was there. I just bent over and wept,” she said.

Connie will be there this weekend. For the many events taking place.

Find the full schedule here.