The Time Waylon Jennings Almost Never Lived to Become a Country Legend
The world of music will never forget the day of Feb. 3, 1959. It's often known as 'The Day Music Died,' words written by Don McLean in his hit song 'American Pie.'
It was also the day -- 56 years ago today -- that Waylon Jennings almost never became the country legend he is known as today.
Before he established himself as a force in the world of country music, a 21-year-old Jennings was the bass player for one of the world's greatest talents, Buddy Holly.
Holly recruited Jennings to be his bass player on his 'Winter Dance Party Tour,' just months after the two first met KLLL radio station in Lubbock. The two spent time at Holly's apartment in New York City before they departed on tour with Ritchie Valens and J.P. 'The Big Bopper' Richardson.
The band was set to take a chartered plane from Clear Lake, Iowa., to Fargo, N.D., with Jennings supposed to be on board. He gave up his seat for Richardson, who had the flu, and opted to take the bus.
Before the plane left, Holly told Jennings, "I hope your ol' bus freezes up!” to which Jennings famously replied, “Well, I hope your ol' plane crashes!” as he told the story in the book, Falling Stars: Air Crashes That Filled Rock and Roll Heaven.
Bad weather and an inexperienced pilot resulted in the plane crashing just hours later, killing all on board instantly.
The music world was shaken with the loss of one of its brightest stars in Buddy Holly. Jennings later said he felt responsible for the crash.
Not long afterward, Jennings saw his career as an outlaw country singer erupt. He saw 54 albums hit the charts in a span of 30 years, with 11 reaching No. 1. He joined a country supergroup in the 1980s called The Highwaymen with names you'll recognize: Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson.
There's no telling what country music would have been like had Jennings got on the plane The Day Music Died. But you can definitely say country music would not have been what it is today.
Jennings died on Feb. 13, 2002 at the age of 64.