Rare signatures of Buddy Holly and members of the 1959 Winter Dance Party Tour—shortly preceding the 'day the music died'
Vintage ballpoint signatures, "Buddy Holly" and "Frankie Sardo," on an off-white 5 x 3 card, also signed on the reverse by "Dion," "Carl Bunch, Drums, Crickets," "Debbie Stevens," and one other. Given the combination of signatures, these autographs were presumably signed mere days or weeks before Holly's tragic death. Handsomely silk-matted and framed with a plaque and album cover to an overall size of 24.25 x 30. In very good to fine condition, with some light creasing.
This card features the signatures of five members of the 1959 Winter Dance Party tour, which starred Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper (J. P. Richardson), and Dion and the Belmonts. After opening night on January 23rd in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the caravan zigzagged wearily across state lines before stopping in Clear Lake, Iowa—350 miles from the previous day's concert in Green Bay—where the tour’s 10th show was arranged on the fly.
Fed up with freezing on the tour bus—which resulted in drummer Carl Bunch's brief hospitalization for frostbite—Holly chartered a plane, a four-seater Beechcraft Bonanza, for his band to leave after their Surf Ballroom show and head to Fargo, North Dakota, the closest city to their next stop in Moorhead, Minnesota. With takeoff imminent, the seating plan needed to be set: Holly was in, as was the flu-ridden Richardson (bassist Waylon Jennings offered up his seat); the third seat was taken by Valens, who won it on a coin flip with guitarist Tommy Allsup.
Shortly after embarking from the Mason City Municipal Airport just shy of 1 a.m., the Bonanza disappeared, its wreckage and the bodies of its passengers found the next morning, less than six miles from the airstrip. The Winter Dance Party tour bravely ventured on after the 'day the music died,' adding Frankie Avalon, Jimmy Clanton, and Fabian to fill out the existing bill. Dion DiMucci led The Belmonts, a popular male vocal group in the 'doo-wop' style who had scored their first hit, 'I Wonder Why,' in 1958, and went on to music success which earned them a spot in the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. Frankie Sardo and Debbie Stevens each had a hit single in 1959, Sardo's 'Fake Out' and Stevens' 'If You Can't Rock Me.'