Buddy Holly Crash Site

Feb 3, 1959 was the day the music died, according to the 1971 song “American Pie” by Don McLean. It was in a lonely field, north of Clear Lake where a plane crash killed four people:

  • Buddy Holly
  • Ritchie Valens
  • “The Big Bopper” J. P. Richardson 
  • Pilot Roger Peterson

The group had just performed at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, just a few miles south. They were on their
Winter Dance Party” Tour and were heading to Moorehead, Minnesota.

Where is the Buddy Holly Crash Site?

The intersection of Gull Ave and of 315th St, Clear Lake, Iowa

Has the memorial always been here?

First of all, yes this is the actual crash site. After you walk into the field and face the small guitar and record monuments – you are standing on the ground where Buddy Holly’s body was thrown from the plane.

However, it was not until 1988 that the memorials were added by Ken Paquette. He made a stainless steel monument of a guitar and three records with the names of the three musicians. An additional memorial was added int 2009 for Roger Peterson, the pilot.

The Buddy Holly Glasses mark the entrance to the actual crash site, which is .35 miles behind the glasses.

When is the Buddy Holly Crash Site open?

It’s listed as 6:30 am to 11 pm, however, remember to be respectful as this is private property.

Is there parking available at the Buddy Holly Crash Site?

Turns out that they recently added some parking spaces and have named it Don McLean’s American Pie Parking, which even has its own website> https://donmcleanparkingarea.org/

How long of a walk is it to the Buddy Holly Crash Site from the road?

It measures .35 miles and is a straight shot behind the large pair of Buddy Holly glasses – however, there is no walking path, you are walking on the edge of the field.

Wide-angle view of the crash site memorials. Notice that there are no formal walking paths to the crash site. Remember to be respectful, as this is private property.

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