My brother Norman and I love Don McLean's "American Pie". We remember February 3, 1959 when Buddy, Ritchie and The Big Bopper died. We have always heard that Waylon Jennings gave up his seat in a "coin flip" and that's how Ritchie Valens was on the plane. Dion di Mucci, of Dion and The Belmonts, was also a performer on the "Winter Party" tour and he has a totally different recollection of the events. Please read his version.
THE ROCK & ROLL HALL of FAME HISTORY of
“THE WINTER DANCE PARTY”
*FOUR FACTS and WHAT HAPPENED THAT NIGHT*
1***Buddy Holly chartered the plane just for the “headliners.” We were the ones making the most money and, therefore, were the only ones that could afford the flight.
2***Buddy was able to charter a plane with only four seats including the pilot's seat. Because there was not enough room for all four of us to fly, someone would have to ride the bus.
3***In a closed dressing room we flipped a coin to see who was going to fly. The Big Bopper and I won the toss. I then discovered that the flight would cost $36, the exact amount of rent due monthly that my parents constantly argued about. I said to Ritchie, ‘You go.’ He accepted and took my seat.
4***Only the four of us knew who was getting on that plane when we left that dressing room that night. I am the only one who survived beyond February 3, 1959 who was in the room that night where the coin toss occurred.
I talked about all that happened for two whole weeks on the bus after the plane crash because the tour continued until February 18, 1959. Everybody on the tour bus heard exactly what happened.
The truth is that if all the people who said they flipped a coin with Buddy Holly to get a seat on that plane, they would have needed a 747. There have been so many stories over the years that were simply made up, so many ‘created’ stories about the ‘coin flip.’
I didn't think the coin flip was important because it was never the deciding factor in my decision not to fly.
”You know how I feel. I believe the truth is important, even in Rock & Roll. This is OUR music, OUR culture, OUR lives.. After all, Rock & Roll says ‘tell the truth ‘til it hurts.’ Long live Rock & Roll.