60 Years Since ‘The Day the Music Died’ in Clear Lake

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CLEAR LAKE, Iowa — This weekend rock ‘n’ roll will rule at the Surf Ballroom. It is the 60th anniversary of Buddy Holly’s last concert before he was killed in a plane crash near Clear Lake.

Richie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson also died in the plane crash, while traveling to the next stop on the “Winter Dance Party Tour.”

On Friday, Clear Lake Elementary students made a field trip to the Surf Ballroom, where the students got to dance to a rock ‘n’ roll band.

This weekend, it is a time for fans and those with connection to the artists to head to Clear Lake.

“I’m so happy that someone does this and puts it on. [I] hope it continues forever,” said Ken Hedberg of Minneapolis.

“We love all the people who come from different places,” said Irma Valens-Norton of Las Vegas. “I just cannot believe I’m talking to somebody…they’ll tell me, you know, I’m from London, I’m from Germany, I’m here to see Richie Valens, I’m here to hear Richie Valens.”

“We have over 30 Richie Valens family members here. Everybody just set everything down and said ‘this in important,’” said Connie Valens, Richie’s sister. She started coming to Iowa from California for the Winter Dance parties. She now lives in Spirit Lake. “Been here seven years and I love it!” she said.

For more information on the Winter Dance Party, click here.

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