Today marks 'the day the music died'

A fateful toss of a coin made Feb. 3, 1959 and a routine flight a moment in history that many fans of '50s music will never forget.

Today is the day the music died and three rock stars became legends.

Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson died in a plane crash in an Iowa field, according to History.

The three musicians were flying during a snowstorm after mechanical issues stopped their tour bus. 

>> Read more trending stories  

Holly chartered the Beechcraft Bonanza plane. 

Richardson, known for the song "Chantilly Lace," was sick and convinced Holly's bandmate, Waylon Jennings, to let him have the seat.

Valens, known for the song "La Bamba" won a coin toss for his seat.

>>Read other events that turned on the toss of a coin

Holly had just hit number one with "That'll Be the Day"

They were in the midst of their Winter Dance Party Tour. They had performed Feb. 2 in Mason City, Iowa and were headed to Moorehead, Minnesota.

The plane crashed in a cornfield minutes after takeoff, according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Investigators said the crash was caused by a combination of bad weather and pilot error.

And while many millennials may not know the names Richardson, Valens or Holly, they may be familiar with the 1972 hit by Don McLean "American Pie," which refers to the crash as "the day the music died."

Holly was inducted into the Rock Hall in 1986.

Valens was inducted in 2001.

Richardson has not been inducted.

Thank you for reading the Springfield News-Sun and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.

Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Springfield News-Sun. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.