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The Day the Music Died: Crash Site Photo Archive

The Big Bopper, Ritchie Valens, and Buddy Holly

"The Big Bopper," Ritchie Valens, and Buddy Holly.

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In the dark, early hours of 3 February 1959, a small nondescript plane, battered by wind and snow, crashed to earth in an isolated field in Iowa. As a light snow fell on the crash scene, the world enjoyed a few more hours of ignorance and innocence. The harsh glare off the morning papers would announce to the world that three of music's brightest stars had, literally, crashed to earth. Rock & Roll had experienced its first great tragedy - the death of not one, but three - iconic performers. Music, youth, innocence, shattered in the time it takes metal to hit dirt. Youth culture would never again be the same.

The following photos show the crash site of the plane that carried Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and "The Big Bopper." Most of these photos can easily be found on the internet. For the full story of "The Day the Music Died", visit the Archive's Buddy Holly-Big Bopper-Ritchie Valens Tribute.

Be warned! Some of these photographs are graphic and may be disturbing to some individuals.

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The black shape behind the plane, on the other side of the fence, is "The Big Bopper."

He was thrown about 40 feet from the wreckage.

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"The Big Bopper" is again visible behind the fence, to the left of the plane.

The investigator is, I believe, examing a valise belonging to Buddy Holly.

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To the right of the plane are Ritchie Valens (dark overcoat) and Buddy Holly (lighter overcoat, next to the valise).

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Another view of the wreckage. Holly is on the left, Valens is on the right.

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Holly lies near the center of the photo. Valens is visible behind the investigators.

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Holly, right; Valens, center.

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Ritchie Valens

The following photos are some of the only to exist of the crash site in color. They are from Kevin Terry's collection from the former Buddy Holly Online web site.

The crash site in color

The crash site in color

The crash site in color