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Waylon Jennings Recalls Events Leading Up To Buddy Holly's Tragic Plane Crash

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Waylon jennings Songs | Waylon Jennings Recalls Events Leading Up To Buddy Holly's Tragic Plane Crash | Country Music Videos
Photo credit: YouTube via gduwen (Left), Decca/Buddy Holly (Right)
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Giving up his seat on the plane to another musician, the country legend recalls the words that would haunt him forever.

Hired as a bassist for Buddy Holly following Holly's choice to disband from The Crickets, Waylon Jennings got a huge boost to his musical career from touring with the rock and roll star. 

Jennings and Holly took off on The Winter Dance Party Tour beginning on January 23, 1959 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and then continued on across the midwestern United States. The sheer distance between tour dates hadn't been accounted for and as a result, the traveling became an utter nightmare for all the musicians.

Shortly after the tour began, the tour bus lost its heater to a mechanical breakdown, and the team began to fall ill; the drummer, Carl Bunch, was even hospitalized with frostbitten toes.

On Monday, February 2nd, the tour stopped in Clear Lake, IA - an unscheduled stop for the band. Although they weren't planning on playing a gig, tour presenters offered a show to a local venue owner, and they were set to play that evening.

After the show, Holly was overcome with frustration related to the traveling conditions and chose to charter a plane to Fargo, North Dakota where the rest of the band would meet him. Holly, Jennings, and Tommy Allsup were scheduled to take off just after midnight, but another musician on the tour J.P. Richardson ("The Big Bopper") asked Jennings for his seat as he had come down with the flu and needed time to rest. Allsup lost his seat in a coin toss with Ritchie Valens and also stayed behind. 

When Holly learned that Jennings was giving his seat up, he jokingly prodded the would-be country star. "I hope your ass freezes on the bus!" 

"Here I am, about 19-years-old and I said, 'Yeah, well I hope your old plane crashes', and God almighty - for years I thought I had caused it..." Jennings recalled with a heavy sigh.

Just hours later, and minutes after takeoff, the plane carrying the three musicians, Buddy Holly, J.P. Richardson ("The Big Bopper"), and Ritchie Valens crashed into a cornfield - driven down by a worsening storm and an inexperienced pilot. 

Nearly twenty years later, Jennings penned a song dedicated to his lost friend and the emotional torment he had felt for a great deal of time after Holly's death.

The song, "Old Friend" was released on his album, Are You Ready For The Country in June 1976 and was certified gold, topping the Billboard Country Albums chart. 

Check out the videos below for the interview Jennings gave to CMT about Holly's plane crash as well as the song he penned in Holly's honor. 



LYRICS BELOW

Was it really years ago
It seems like only yesterday
The last time that I saw
You laugh at me and fly away.

I remember all of the good times
And the songs we used to sing
Old friend we sure have missed you
But you ain't missed a thing.

Lord you should've heard the music
And all the changes it's gone through
But the funny thing is lately
It keeps an easing back to you.

But there's always something missing
It'll never be the same
Old friend we sure have missed you
But you ain't missed a thing.

They've been writin' books about you
And the stories that they tell
Make you look like some kind of angel
But we both know you're mean as hell.

I've had my share of hard times
But I've lived through the strain
Old friend I sure have missed you
But you ain't missed a thing.

People talk about you
After all this time
You were many things to many people
But you were a friend of mine.

I've been thinking bout how long
You've been gone the things you've never seen
But old friend I sure have missed you
But you ain't missed a thing.

Old buddy we sure have missed you
But you ain't missed a thing

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