February 3, 1959, a light airplane crashed in rural Iowa taking the lives of the pilot, the Big Bopper, Ritchie Valens and Buddy Holly.
Last year in miracle warm weather I rode my motorcycle to the Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock TX for a memorial weekend of events. This year it's too cold to go but I'm there in spirit, listening to Buddy Holly on Pandora.
I was a month away from my seventeenth birthday when the plane crashed. That day has remained in my mind the way the day of JFK's assassination a few years later has, the way 9-11 does, the way many days have that were more tragic in a cosmic sense, in a world sense.
Buddy would be in his early 70s now if not for that plane crash and given good luck through the decades. You wonder if he'd be playing Vegas, doing the same old songs every night, catching motel room keys tossed onstage by grandmothers.
Some of the Crickets, his backup group, are doing well, still playing gigs, living back home in Lubbock. Gracious men, those old country rockers, listening gratefully to seniors telling them how much they meant to them in their distant youth.
I'm sad that Buddy died so young with so much promise unfulfilled. I've been sad about his loss for 51 years this morning. I'd like to tell him how much he meant to me in my increasingly distant youth.