A half-dozen or so years after that, La Bamba hit the theaters and made Lou Diamond Philips a star (though not a big enough star to keep Melissa Etheridge from stealing his wife). I really identified with that movie more than it probably warrants, since I was dating a Latina at the time and caught the most abysmal stream of unrelenting shit from my parents anyone could imagine for it. So yeah, La Bamba etched itself into my psyche.
Just recently, a few months back, in face, I was fortunate enough to sit through a lecture by the legendary forensic anthropologist Bill Bass as he took the audience on a step-by-step re-creation of his CSI-style autopsy of the exhumed body of the Big Bopper decades after the singer's death. It seems that the Bopper was found in the frozen field some distance away from the other crash victims, with a gun (owned by Holly, IIRC) in close proximity. Ever since, rumors had floated through the family that the Big Bopper had somehow survived the crash and set off for help, only to fall victim to a mysterious gunshot from a mysterious assailant. Since the Bopper was being exhumed and moved to facilitate a monument being erected in his honor, the family asked Bass to see what he could tell from modern X-rays. Friends and neighbors, let my assure you that the unfortunate Mr. Richardson did not walk any distance whatsoever. And there's no way he survived the crash. You've heard the phrase "broke every bone in his body"? Well, now I know what that looks like on X-ray. And it is profoundly squeam-inducing.
So this infamous plane crash has been a part of my life for a good long time, even though I wasn't around for the actual event. I, and about a million other people, wonder what additional music these guys would've created had they survived such untimely deaths.
Fifty years. Man, I feel old.
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