I read today that Jay Richardson, son of the late J.P. Richardson (aka The Big Bopper) has hired some forensics expert to exhume his father’s body in an effort to confirm the urban myth/legend that gunfire may have been a factor in the famous plane crash on "The Day The Music Died" in 1959. While it’s well-documented that a gun (supposedly belonging to Buddy Holly or Bopper) was found in the wreckage of the doomed plane, I’ve read and heard several detailed accounts of the crash, and none of them mention gunfire on board the plane. What the hell would be the motive for that anyway? Bopper was pissed because he couldn’t ride shotgun (no pun intended) on the plane? Buddy was annoyed because Bopper farted and stunk up the plane? To paraphrase the late Ritchie Valens: Come on, let it go, already!
Let’s look at the facts, shall we? You had a inexperienced pilot, one Roger Peterson (who wasn’t even yet qualified and/or certified to read some of the instrumentation on that particular model of plane) being called in unexpectedly late at night to fly (on overtime, making fatigue a factor), in poor visibility against the wind straight into a snowstorm using fairly primitive (albeit state-of-the-art) late '50s aircraft and weather forecasting technology. If that ain’t a recipe for disaster, I don’t know what is!
Supposedly, the exhumation of Bopper’s body will allow the forensic expert to find bullet debris in his bones—never mind that the man’s been dead for damn near fifty years! And, don’t you think if there were bullet wounds involved, the coroner would have spotted them during the original autopsies in 1959? I’ve read the autopsy reports on Ritchie Valens and Buddy Holly, and trust me, they’re pretty detailed (not to mention downright gory), so I doubt if Bopper’s autopsy would have been any less thorough to the point where the coroner would have whiffed on bullet wounds or anything of that sort.
While I’m at it—what the hell were those Winter Dance Party Tour promoters thinking by staging a concert tour in the Upper Midwest in January and February?!? One can only imagine how miserable that must have been riding on that cold, rickety old bus at night, especially when you consider they didn’t have the Interstate system to get around on back then—it took a whole lot longer to travel 300 miles or more at a time than it does now. That’s the time of year they should have been touring Florida or Texas or the West Coast and saved the Upper Midwest for April or May when the weather was at least halfway decent for traveling by highway. That whole tragedy could have easily been prevented if those sleazy promoters had been thinking with their brains instead of their wallets. What a waste…