How Dion survived the day the music died

In the home section of yesterday’s Wall Street Journal—or, more accurately, the “Mansion” section (it is, after all, The Wall Street Journal 🙂 )—singer Dion DiMucci talks about growing up in the Bronx, with parents who often fought over the $36 rent for their apartment.

That exact amount of money would later save his life.

In January of 1959, Dion says in the article, he was out on the Winter Dance Party tour with Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valenz, and J.P. Richardson (the Big Bopper). It was bitterly cold, −30°. The group had to travel from Clear Lake, Iowa, to North Dakota for their next appearance, and to save them from making the trip in their freezing yellow school bus, Buddy Holly chartered a small plane. Only problem was it had room for only three of the four young men.

You know what happened next. But probably not why Dion wasn’t on that plane.

We flipped a coin a few times and the Big Bopper and I won. When I asked Buddy how much it was going to cost me to fly, he said $36. I froze. It was the same amount as the rent my parents had fought over when I was a kid. I felt guilty about spending that much, so I gave my seat to Ritchie. That night, the plane crashed just after taking off, killing everyone.

Here’s the link to the article:

About Katherine Wikoff

I am a college professor at Milwaukee School of Engineering, where I teach literature, film studies, political science, and communication. I also volunteer with a Milwaukee homeless sanctuary, Repairers of the Breach, as chair of the Communications and Fund Development Committee.
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2 Responses to How Dion survived the day the music died

  1. Wow!!! Sometimes we just have to listen to that little voice in our heads!


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