The Winter Dance Party (1959) | Buddy Holly / Big Bopper / Ritchie Valens / Frankie Sardo / Dion & The Belmonts

The Winter Dance Party (1959) | Buddy Holly / Big Bopper / Ritchie Valens / Frankie Sardo / Dion & The Belmonts

Frankie Sardo never wanted to be a rock and roll star. He was invited to join the tour because he had a regional hit in the Midwest with a song his brother had written called “Fake Out;” his friends, the other artists already booked on the tour, asked him to come along as the opening act. He had just come back from a tour of duty in the Korean War and thought it sounded like it would be a fun trip. Sardo’s memories of the tour and the other musicians he traveled with are as clear as the day he first stepped on the stage at the Surf Ballroom. Upon returning to the Surf all these years later, he said that what came back immediately was the laughter. The conditions of the Winter Dance Party tour were horrible – zigzagging across the frozen Midwest in the dead of winter, with 35 degrees below zero temperatures in rickety old buses that kept breaking down. Even so, there was no shortage of practical jokes, card playing, story telling and song swapping. One of the best jokes, according to Sardo, was before a performance one night, he and the other guys re-strung Buddy Holly’s guitar upside down. Buddy ran on stage and grabbed his guitar, like he always did, started strumming… As the tour progressed, Sardo was musically and personally influenced by the other acts. Ritchie Valens’ roommate on the tour, Sardo remembers how polite Valens was – calling everyone sir. Sardo grabbed the “kid” and explained to him that he was a rock star, he had a major hit record and he should be telling people to move over and give him a seat! He remembers Bopper’s booming laugh and Buddy’s sense of humor. He remembers youth, the kids screaming in the audience – so much so, that for fun the singers would sing impromptu risqué lyrics to their well-known hits because the pandemonium from the crowd was so loud.

Frankie Sardo – Fake Out
Winter Dance Party (Buddy Holly Final Tour), 1959

His favorite memory from the Winter Dance Party tour happened one night while riding on the miserable, cold bus. Buddy Holly broke out his guitar and wanted to play the group a new song he had just recorded called “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore.” Buddy wanted their opinion on the song. Sardo explains how in this moment, he was flooded with emotion realizing just how special and talented this group of men he was traveling with really are. […]  The Frankie Sardo Story

Buddy Holly – It Doesn’t Matter Anymore

< Buddy Holly, April 1958

Ritchie Valens – Come on let’s go                                  Dion & The Belmonts – I Wonder Why
On February 3, 1959, rock and roll musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson were killed in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa, together with pilot Roger Peterson. The event later became known as “The Day the Music Died”

< View of mourners the funeral service for musician Jiles Perry Richardson Jr, better known as The Big Bopper (1930 – 1959), Beaumont, Texas, February 7, 1959
Richardson died in the same plane crash that killed fellow musiciains Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens, and the pilot, Roger Peterson.

Big Bopper – Chantilly Lace

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