Another Look At Plane Crash That Killed Music Legends
The son of rock 'n roll's Big Bopper
wants some answers into the plane crash that killed his father,
Buddy Holly, and Ritchie Valens nearly 50 years ago. Their plane
went down north of Clear Lake, IA, during a tour of the
Jay Richardson, son of the Big Bopper, whose real name was J.P.
Richardson, has hired forensic anthropologist Dr. Bill Bass to help
with the investigation. Bass is the founder of the University of
Tennessee's research facility nicknamed the Body Farm, according to
the Associated Press. The body will be exhumed from its Beaumont,
TX, grave in March.
Bass, an expert in determining identities and causes of death,
had confirmed the identity of the Lindbergh baby, who was kidnapped
in 1932 and murdered.
Bass said his goal is to "document all the fractures and get an
idea of how many broken bones and which ones are critical and give
them as much information as I can about the crash and how it
affected his father."
Bass may also be able to determine if the Big Bopper was thrown
from the wreckage or if he walked away.
Holly chartered a four-passenger Beech Bonanza on February 3,
1959, because the group's bus was cold and prone to breaking down.
The plane crashed, killing all on board-a tragedy memorialized as
"the day the music died" in Don McLean's song American
After the crash, an autopsy was performed on the pilot, but not
on the passengers.
"I'm not looking for any great bombshell," Richardson said, "but
then again, you never know."
He hopes an examination will settle rumors that someone might
have fired a gun on board. It may also tell whether the Big Bopper
might have survived the actual crash, but then died trying to go
Two unusual discoveries at the crash site gave rise to rumors
about what might have happened on the flight from Mason City, IA.
First, the Big Bopper's body was discovered nearly 40 feet from the
wreckage, while the other bodies were found at the site; and a gun,
registered to Holly, was discovered in a farmer's field two months
after the crash.
Newspaper accounts of the gun discovery fueled rumors among fans
that the pilot was somehow shot, causing the crash. The owner of
the flying service added to the conspiracy theory by insisting his
pilot was not at fault.
After the forensic investigation, Big Bopper's remains will be
reburied and a statue erected on the site.
"I don't know how I would feel to know that my father died some
other way than what I believed most of my life," said Richardson,
who never met his father, as his mother was pregnant with him at
the time of the crash. He now performs tribute shows as the Big