FLIP OF A COIN
With a flip, he won. It would have been better if he had lost.
Fifty-three years ago tomorrow, February 3, 1959, three early rock-n’-rollers lost their lives, along with the pilot of their small plane. Buddy Holly, J.P. Richardson, 17-year-old Ritchie Valens and their pilot, Roger Anderson, all were killed in a plane crash shortly after 1 a.m. not far from Clear Lake, Iowa. Each year at this time, they are remembered in a three-day music festival held at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, the place they last played. In years past, I have been to this festival. It is great.
Also on the bill that night in 1959, as it was a typical rock-n’- roll package show was Dion Dimucci, or Dion and the Belmonts. Earlier in the evening, Holly had made arrangements to charter a plane to fly on to the next night’s show in Moorhead, Minnesota. The plane had room for three, besides the pilot. After the show, in the dressing room, a coin was flipped to see who would get the two seats along with Holly. The two winners in the coin flip were J.P. Richardson, whose stage name was the Big Bopper, and Dion. When Dion learned that flight was going to cost each of them $36, Dion opted out. “I can’t afford it,” he said. Valens, of “Oh, Donna” fame, was now the “winner” of the third seat.
A life lost on a flip of a coin. A life saved when a guy was broke and couldn’t afford the $36.
It happened fifty- three years ago tomorrow, and I remember it like it was yesterday. I was a great Holly fan and still am to this day. I have every thing he ever recorded. You know, sometimes when you think you’re losing, you may have actually won. I wonder what Dion’s thoughts are every year on that anniversary?
I bet “Why Must I Be A Teenager In Love” is not the only question Dion has ever asked himself.
February 2, 2011