This Bus in Washington State is the Real Cause of Buddy Holly’s Death
Parked outside of the Triple XXX Root Beer Drive-In in Issaquah, Washington is an old tour bus that was used by Buddy Holly & the Crickets. They used a number of busses during the Winter Dance Party Tour in 1958 but this is likely the bus that Buddy Holly complained about - it broke down frequently and had no heat - which made traveling very uncomfortable for the popular 1950s singers on the tour - Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper. The bus rides were so cold the drummer actually suffered frostbite.
The three up-and-coming singers had grown tired of nearly freezing to death on the bus and after a show near Green Bay, Wisconsin in early February of 1959 temperatures had dropped to nearly -20 degrees. That's when Buddy Holly decided enough was enough and considered another option. Flying.
Their next tour stop was in Clear Lake, Iowa, which was over 300 miles away. They all dreaded the thought (mostly Buddy Holly) of riding on the unreliable and cold bus. So, as the story goes, Buddy Holly decided to charter a small plane for the group. Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper all boarded a 1947 Beechcraft Bonanza piloted by a very young 21-year-old pilot who had no instrument flight training (flying in clouds) and took off for Clear Lake, Iowa.
The weather at the time of takeoff wasn’t great – light snow with low visibility and wind. And, it was 12:55 am in the morning. But, the three performers still felt flying was a better option than freezing on the bus.
Radio contact was lost with the plane within 5 minutes after takeoff. Early the next morning the wreckage of the plane and the bodies of all three performers were found scattered across a field only six miles away from the airport. February 3, 1959, has been called “The Day the Music Died”.
The bus that the group refused to ride in has been parked outside the Triple XXX Root Beer Drive-In in Issaquah, Washington for decades and is owned by the restaurant owner. It’s a 1950s Kenworth and the exterior has been restored.