Who Flipped a Coin With Ritchie Valens?: The Day the Music Died and the Coin Toss Controversy

Day Music Died Coin Toss February 3 marks the anniversary of the sidereal day Buddy Holly, J.P. Richardson, and Ritchie Valens perished in a plane crash. You probably know the general outline of “ the day the music died. ” But you may not know the controversy surrounding the fabled mint pass connected to the calamity .

The Day the Music Died

In early 1959, Buddy Holly, J.P. “ The Big Bopper ” Richardson, Ritchie Valens, and Dion and the Belmonts toured through the Midwest in what was called “ The winter Dance Party. ” besides on the tour was Holly ’ s newfangled back-up ring replacing the Crickets : Tommy Allsup on guitar, Waylon Jennings on bass, and Carl Bunch on drums. Some of the performers were tired of traveling through the cold in an previous bus that kept breaking down. The poor conditions led to drummer Bunch going to the hospital with frostbite. so Buddy Holly chartered a little plane for one of the approaching trips on the tour. After their February 2, 1959 operation in acquit Lake, Iowa, three of the stars — Holly, Richardson, and Valens — boarded a three-passenger plane. The plane took off in the early dawn hours of February 3 for Fargo, North Dakota but soon crashed in a snow ramp.

All three passengers were killed along with the pilot Roger Peterson. The young rock and roll music diligence lost three of its brightest stars .

The Competing Claims About a Coin Toss

Although the story is familiar, there is silent an ongoing question. Besides Holly, how did Richardson and Valens end up on the plane rather of the other headliner, Dion, or rather of other band members ? Stories conflict about the events that night before the trajectory. Everyone agrees there was a mint flip. But survivors silent debate who was the person who scantily missed getting on a plane ride to their end, all due to the luck of a coin flip. holly ’ s early ring members tell one narrative. But Dion wrote in his book The Wanderer Talks Truth ( 2011 ) that the events “ have been completely eclipsed by urban legends, cinematic retellings, gossip, and instantaneously grandstanding. ” ( p. 41 ). Who is telling the truth ? Let ’ s consider the different versions of the fib. On a Behind the Music episode, “ The Day the Music Died, ” the producers presented the floor that Buddy Holly planned for the airplane to the future stop on the go for him and his two musicians, Waylon Jennings and Tommy Allsup. In the video, Waylon Jennings explains how he gave up his seat on the plane to the ailing Big Bopper ( around 9:50 ). Jennings recounts that Holly had ribbed him about taking the busbar. Jennings responded, facetiously, “ I hope your ole flat crashes, ” a retort that haunted him for years. In the same sequence, guitarist Tommy Allsup recounts how when he went inside to make sure they did not leave anything behind, he ran into Ritchie Valens. then, Valens asked Allsup if he could take Allsup ’ s seat on the plane. Allsup then claims he flipped a mint, and Valens won the seat on the doomed plane. In other venues, Tommy Allsup repeated his interpretation of the history of the coin pass that he lost to Ritchie Valens. Bob Hale, the master of ceremonies at the Surf Ballroom in Iowa for the survive Winter Dance Party indicate before the plane crash, has a exchangeable recall. Hale remembers that Allsup suggested the coin interchange. But Hale recalls that he was the one who flipped the coin for Allsup and Valens. Hale remembers that Valens won by calling “ heads. ” Allsup, however, argues that Hale was not salute at the coin flip. [ February 2013 Update : See the comments section below for Mr. Hale ’ south remark on this mail. ] [ January 2017 Update : Tommy Allsup passed away on January 11, 2017. ] Dion has so far another translation of the events leading to the plane drive. According to Dion ’ s web site : “ Dion was, in fact, scheduled to fly in the fatal flat that went down. The headliners flipped a mint to see who was going to fly. The Big Bopper and Dion won the convulse. then he discovered that the flight would cost $ 36 — the exact amount of rip his parents paid monthly. He said, ‘ I couldn ’ metric ton bring myself to pay a full month ’ s rip on a short flight. So I said, ‘ Ritchie, you go. ’ He accepted and took my seat. only the four of us knew who was getting on that plane when we left the dress room that nox. Of those four, I was the only one who survived beyond February 3, 1959. ‘ ” In his reserve The Wanderer Talks Truth, Dion explains that through the years he watched others ( presumably Allsup who he never mention ) exaggerate their role. Dion asserts that he only came fore to correct history when the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame contacted him about the conflict stories. Filmmakers created a documentary about the tour that includes Dion ’ randomness memories. 2015 update : The Winter Dance Party video interview with Dion has been completed and is posted below. Dion ’ mho explanation of the coin toss involving Holly, Vallens, the Big Bopper, and him begins at around 42:20, although the entire video is worth watching for his memories of the tour. Allsup has threatened to “ whip [ Dion ’ s ] ass for claiming he participated in the coin chuck with Valens. Sometimes Allsup ’ sulfur anger about the challenge unnecessarily digresses to attacking Dion ’ s musical talents. Readers of this web log know I am a Dion fan, so I hate to believe that he is lying. And to a big extent, one may wonder why, as the one-fourth headliner, discussions of the fatten tour often eject mention of Dion. then again, one may give some weight to Ritchie Valens ’ south baby, Connie Valens Lemos. She sides with Tommy Allsup on the consequence .

The Movie Versions of the Coin Flip

The two major films about two of the stars on the enlistment do not add any insight. The Buddy Holly Story ( 1978 ) avoided the issue altogether. That movie ends with Buddy Holly on stage in clear Lake, Iowa on the fateful night, playing his hits and having fun on stage. At the end of The Buddy Holly Story, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper join Holly on degree for the final song, leaving us with a happy here and now. As in many retellings of the floor, the film does not mention the fourth headliner, Dion. The film about Ritchie Valens, La Bamba ( 1987 ), besides excludes all mention of Dion. A picture of a pavilion on the final enlistment does not even show Dion ’ mho mention.

La Bamba takes some extra literary license with the events leading astir to the flight. Regarding the coin toss, in the first mention of the plan flight, the Big Bopper tells Valens ( Lou Diamond Phillips ) that Holly reserved the airplane for the headliners. This conversation in the film is consistent with Dion ’ s narrative. But later in the movie La Bamba, it shows the group standing future to the plane. There, Holly explains he is flipping a coin to decide whether Ritchie or “ Tommy ” gets to go. “ Tommy ” is besides called “ Allsup ” in the view, so the movie follows the Allsup-Valens coin toss floor. But La Bamba moves the individual flip between the two men to one conducted by Holly on the airfield. Allsup has criticized the movie ’ s fictionalized translation of the coin flip .

What Really Happened?

Is Allsup telling the accuracy ? And did Dion ’ s resource insert the singer thick into the floor of “ the day the music died ” ? It is comfortable to imagine a bell on Dion from decades of hearing about the music die when he survived. For decades, the tales surrounding the calamity frequently have excluded that tour headliner. Or is Dion telling the truth, which would mean that Allsup and Waylon Jennings are wrong ? And what about Hale ’ s version that he flipped the coin ?

     Arguments Supporting Allsup’s Version

Between Allsup and Dion, there is no way to be certain who is telling the truth. But some factors weigh in privilege of Allsup. Since Holly arranged for the flight, it seems like he might first ask his friends and band-mates Allsup and Jennings. This ending makes sense considering the ring had lost drummer Carl Bunch for a while due to to frostbite. besides, Allsup ’ s wallet was found among the wreckage. Allsup explains that before the mint chuck, he had planned to go on the trajectory. So he gave Holly his identification so Holly could pick up his mail waiting in Fargo. inactive, even if Allsup had not planned to fly at some point, he could have given his wallet to Holly for the like reason. One potent argumentation for Allsup is that he systematically has told the same floor since the crash. And most stories by other people are largely consistent with Allsup ’ sulfur translation of the mint flip. Bob Hale confirms that the coin flip involved Allsup and Valens, tied though Allsup and Hale disagree about who actually flipped the mint. Jennings ’ fib besides is more consistent with Allsup ’ south. Jennings ’ south floor about Allsup seems truthful because he would have no motivation to make up a floor that makes him look bad with his joke tease about the plane crash. hush, under Dion ’ s interpretation, Jennings and Holly hush could have had the substitution even if Jennings had not been one of the original passengers .

     Arguments Supporting Dion’s Version

On the other hired hand, some reasons support Dion ’ second translation of events. holly might have asked the headliners first, expecting they most likely would be bequeath to have the money for the expensive fledge. besides, according to Larrry Lehmer ’ s book, The Day the Music Died, Holly had asked Jennings to open for him in England but told Jennings that he was not going to tour in England with Allsup because he was going to get back together with his original Crickets. therefore possibly Allsup would not be the first person Holly would ask on the escape. There are other reasons why holly might have first invited the headliners. For model, Valens and Richardson were both sick, thus holly might have asked them first, then included the other headliner, Dion. Waylon Jennings does remember that Dion was particularly angry about the hapless conditions of the bus topology that kept breaking down ( Lehmer, p. 67 ). thus, Holly might have thought that Dion would be the foremost to jump at the casual to fly. And Holly played drums for Dion for their last read, so they might have talked about the flight. finally, there are questionable reports that Holly, Valens, and Richardson flew in a flat on some legs of the tour before the fatal trip. ( Lehmer, p. 224 ) If on-key, it seems Holly was flying with the headliners, not his isthmus members. If true, that rehearse would support the conclusion that Dion was invited on the final escape. On the early bridge player, many dispute the stories about other flights and even Dion does not remember any other flights .

Trying to Put It All Together

Larry Lehmer Larry Lehmer ’ s well-researched book is in the Allsup camp, recounting the version from Jennings and Allsup without mentioning the Dion controversy. Lehmer besides quotes Carroll Anderson, the director of the Surf loiter and the person who first gear contacted the pilot Roger Peterson, as saying that Holly said he wanted to get a flight for him and his band. ( p. 95. ) possibly some combination of the stories is true. possibly there was a coin pass among all of the men and Allsup and Dion both “ lost ” out on seats of the plane. Or possibly there were two mint tosses. Under both Allsup ’ sulfur and Dion ’ randomness stories their coin tosses happened in different places at different times. Under this scenario, possibly Dion had a seat that he declined because of the monetary value. then later there could have been a mint flip between Valens and Allsup. Buddy Holly ’ sulfur widow, Maria Elena Holly, similarly has suggested some merging of the two stories. But it is reported that Allsup besides has attacked the character of Ms. Holly besides. Ritchie Valens Coin Toss If that is not adequate controversy for the day, some people claim that the plane crash itself should be re-investigated. Some go as far to say that cruddy play was involved in the crash. But we will leave those “ mysteries ” for another day. Of course, the merely people who know how these passengers were selected are Tommy Allsup, Dion, and Ritchie Valens. Whatever happened, the survivors ’ trauma of hearing the news of the crash credibly affected memories. thus, it is probable both Allsup and Dion actually remember the story in unlike ways. Neither of the men is probably intentionally lying. so that leaves Ritchie Valens. But unfortunately he is nobelium longer with us and buried in California. Richardson was buried in Beaumont, Texas, although his body was exhumed in 2007, underwent an autopsy, and reburied. Holly is buried in Lubbock, and the navigate Peterson is buried in Iowa. ultimately, to paraphrase Don McLean ’ s “ American Pie, ” all of this arguing about the coin toss just may be keeping Satan laughing with joy. It may not matter who lost the mint convulse that night. Those who won the flip and those who were on the plane constituted our capital national loss.

What do you think happened with the coin discard ? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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author : chimesfreedom

Editor-in-chief, New York. View all posts by chimesfreedom

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