Waylon Jennings was almost on the plane with Buddy Holly ‘the day the music died’
When country singer and “Outlaw” legend Waylon Jennings was still early in his musical career, he played in Buddy Holly’s band. And he was even supposed to have a seat on the plane that crashed with the beloved singer and other stars on board.
What made Jennings change his mind about getting on Holly’s last flight? And what were the last words he said to his friend before boarding that unfortunate plane?
Buddy Holly’s bus broke down in freezing weather
As Jennings would later recall, he was playing in Holly’s touring band in the winter of 1959. The “Peggy Sue” singer decided to charter a plane for her next tour stop because their bus had run into trouble. mechanical. And those issues caused the vehicle to break down in freezing temperatures, leading to frostbite and a hospital stay for one band member.
Determined to avoid a repeat of the same misery, Holly hired a small private plane to take her to the next stop on her tour. But there were only three seats apart from the pilot’s. So, Holly chose Jennings and another member of the group to accompany her on the flight.
But as boarding time approached, seating plans began to change. And Jennings made a decision that changed his life, and that of another.
Waylon Jennings made way for the ‘Big Bopper’ because he was sick
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Although Jennings initially got a seat on the plane, he decided to give it up. He said that JP Richardson, also known as “Big Bopper”, had battled illness and, as his nickname suggests, he was a “big guy” (per Los Angeles Times.)
“We were riding in this little school bus and the seats were really uncomfortable for him; he just couldn’t rest at all. I can sleep anywhere, so I let him fly out front,” Jennings said. Ritchie Valens wasn’t originally supposed to be on the plane either, but he also ended up with a seat in a draw, according to the stories.
As Jennings recalled, Holly teased him for backing off from the flight and told him he hoped the bus would freeze again. Then Jennings uttered words that he says haunted him for decades: “Well, I hope your old plane crashes!”
Buddy Holly was Waylon Jennings’ friend and mentor
The plane crashed and Holly died aged 22 on February 3, 1959. The day is now known as “the day the music died” thanks to Don McLean’s song “American Pie.” It should be noted that Richardson, Valens, 17, and the pilot were also killed in the crash.
Jennings went on to build an esteemed career in country music, but he never forgot Holly’s place in his life. He said CMT, “If anything I’ve ever done is remembered, it’s partly because of Buddy Holly.”
“Buddy was the first guy to trust me,” he explained. “Hell, I had as much star quality as an old shoe. But he really loved me and believed in me.
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