Buddy Holly (right) was one of the greatest and most important artists in rock history. Waylon Jennings (left) was one of the greatest and most important artists in country music history. Their connection is well-known: Jennings met Holly when Waylon was DJing in Holly's hometown of Lubbock. Holly asked Jennings to join his backing band, The Crickets.
In early 1959, Holly and the Crickets were touring as part of the "Winter Dance Party." Here is the poster for the tour's Feb. 2, 1959 stop in Clear Lake, Iowa:
After that show, Holly chartered a small plane to take him and two others to the tour's next stop in Fargo, North Dakota. The rest of the entourage got on a bus. Jennings was supposed to be on the plane, but gave up his seat to "The Big Bopper," J.P. Richardson. Richie Valens of La Bamba fame won a coin flip to earn a place on he plane. But you know what happened. The plane crash that killed Holly, Valens and Richardson went down in history as "The Day the Music Died."
Holly is a giant in rock history; we know that Holly would have continued making great and important music. Who knows what Valens and Richardson might have done had they survived.
But Waylon survived, through a trick of fate. And only through a trick of fate - The Big Bopper had a cold, Waylon felt sorry for him and so let Richardson have a seat on the plane rather than face a long, uncomfortable bus ride - we were able to recognize and appreciate Jennings' own greatness over the ensuing decades.
Here's a song called You're the One; it was written by Jennings and recorded by Holly in December 1958 in the studios of KLLL Radio in Lubbock:
This is a medley of Buddy Holly songs that Waylon sang, in his great baritone, on a 1975 album called Dreaming My Dreams :
Waylon performed that medley live at a 1980 Buddy Holly tribute concert in Lubbock with his former bandmates in The Crickets. The 55th anniversary of "The Day the Music Died" is just around the corner.