Just after 1:00 a.m. CST on Feb. 3, 1959, a small plane crashed near Clear Lake, Iowa killing three American rock and roll musicians: Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, as well as the pilot, Roger Peterson. The crash took place as the musicians were headed to the next venue on a hectic tour called “The Winter Dance Party.” Set to cover 24 Midwestern cities in three weeks, the tour was riddled with logistical problems including weather, scheduling and transportation, which led Holly to charter the plane.

This tragic event would come to be known as “the day the music died.” The Port Arthur Historical Society and Lamar State College – Port Arthur are proud to present The Day the Music Died 50th Anniversary Concert remembering those lost in that fateful crash.

Produced by Lamar State College – Port Arthur music professor Mike Judy, the concert will take place on Tuesday, February 3, 2009 at 7:00 p.m. at the Lamar State College – Port Arthur Performing Arts Theater located at 1700 Procter Street in Port Arthur .

The tribute concert will be headlined by Gulf Coast Hall of Famer Johnny Preston, a friend and peer of J.P. Richardson’s. Preston worked extensively with Richardson in the early days of Rock and Roll in southeast Texas . He also recorded songs written by Richardson including the 1960 number one hit “Running Bear” featuring background vocals by Richardson and fellow Hall of Famer George Jones.

Accompanied by a slide show of images, Johnny Preston will be joined by select students enrolled in the Commercial Music Performance program at Lamar State College – Port Arthur . The concert will feature tribute songs from each of the performers lost on February 3, 1959 such as The Big Bopper’s “Chantilly Lace” as well as several golden oldies of that era and a special performance of the number one hit from 1972, “American Pie.” Written by Don McLean, the song laments the tremendous loss of musical talent on that day in 1959 and popularized the term “the day the music died.” The song is recognized by the Songs of the Century education project as the number five song of the twentieth century.

Tickets for the concert are $20. Advance tickets are available at the Museum of the Gulf Coast located at 700 Procter Street in downtown Port Arthur . Ticket price includes a 6:00 p.m. patron’s reception at the Museum on February 3. The Museum’s Music Hall of Fame features an exhibit honoring J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson including photographs, sheet music, rare personal effects, and a letter from Don McLean as well as bronze busts commemorating The Big Bopper, Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens.

The Museum will also offer free screenings of the documentary Chantilly Lace: The Story of J.P. Richardson on February 3 at 3:00 and 5:00 p.m. “The 30 minute documentary was researched and produced by graduate students at Purdue University – Calumet a few years ago,” says museum director Shannon Harris, “and is only available to viewers through public screenings such as this.” 

Proceeds from the concert will benefit the Museum of the Gulf Coast and the Commercial Music Performance program at Lamar State College – Port Arthur . For concert information please call the Museum at 409.982.7000. The Museum is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday. For more information about the Museum please visit: www.museumofthegulfcoast.org. For more information about the Commercial Music Performance program please visit: www.lscpacm.com.