Why Richard Chamberlain on February 3rd?

Once again I’ve discovered something of interest on the History Channel’s web site.

Fifty years ago today, a plane crash in Iowa might have gone unnoticed were it not for the fame of the passengers who died. Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly, and the “Big Bopper” J.P. Richardson were on their way to a concert in Minnesota.

Although it wasn’t widely acclaimed as such, many of us believed that the theme from Dr. Kildaire, “Three Stars will Shine Tonight” was a tribute to those three rock and roll stars. That song was released just three years after the plane crash. (Hopefully, the people in that video brought back a few memories for some of my readers. I enjoyed recognizing the likes of Marcus Welby, MD.)

I’m sure I’d heard the story before, but the History Channel’s web site refreshed my memory. The plane was chartered by Buddy Holly for himself and his band, the Crickets, after their tour bus broke down. Evidently, the other two singers were on the same bus and began bargaining with the Crickets to get seats on the plane.

The Big Bopper was suffering from the flu and managed to get one of the Crickets to feel sorry for him. Richie Valens managed to convince another band member to flip a coin for the seat. It’s rather ironic that the guy who lost the coin toss didn’t lose his life.

By the way, the Cricket who gave up his seat to the Big Bopper was none other than Waylon Jennings.

In 1959 I was a mere lad of fifteen, which means I was heavily into rock and roll. My radio was usually tuned to KQV in Pittsburgh and I often listened to those three recording artists. As I recall, my brother had bought a few 45 rpm records of Buddy Holly and the Crickets – “That’ll be the Day” and “Peggy Sue” were two of our favorites.

We all loved to sing along when the Big Bopper began his hit with, “Hello Baby!” And we loved to dance when Ritchie Valens crooned, “Oh, Donna.” So it was a big blow when we lost all three.

While the theme from Dr. Kildaire was only a quasi-tribute to the teen idols, Don McLean’s song, “American Pie” was immediately seen as a open tribute. I tried to find a video with McLean singing the song as we remember it, I had no luck. I’m still not sure why certain recording artists feel the need to try to ‘improve’ upon the original, but, in my opinion, McLean should’ve left well enough alone. In any case, here is what I found.

I never specifically stated why Richard Chamberlain should be connected with February 3rd. But that’s O.K. I never mentioned that the Pittsburgh Steelers won another Super Bowl either.


Since I first wrote this post I remembered another song that was definitely a tribute to the three teen idols. Here it is…


One Response to Why Richard Chamberlain on February 3rd?

  1. Beth DeLorme says:

    Another good column. Keep up the good work!

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