What is more rock and roll than chartering your own plane or for that matter, ending a promising career? Stevie Ray Vaughn got his name from the song “Rave On,” by fellow Texan guitarist Buddy Holly. Both died on their way to shows. For Holly it was just after midnight, on a cold February 3, 1959, in Clear Lake, Iowa. Holly wanted to get to the hotel with enough time to do some laundry, so he and the headliners Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, chartered a plane. Guitarist Tommy Alsup lost out on the final ride by a flip of a coin.
The story of the final tour will be told in the film Clear Lake, which is being put together by Rick French CEO of marketing firm French/West/Vaughan, Denim Buffalo Films founder and president Patrick Shanahan, and Maria Elena Holly, Buddy Holly’s widow, according to Variety. Shanahan wrote the screenplay and collaborated with French on the story.
After a concert at the Surf Ballroom, Holly, Valens, and “The Big Bopper” were killed in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa, together with 21-year-old pilot Roger Peterson. The film will follow Holly and Little Anthony & the Imperials on the 1958 “Biggest Show of Stars Tour.”
Holly broke out with his band The Crickets in 1957 with the song “That’ll Be the Day,” and the follow-up “Peggy Sue.” Buddy Holly broke off from the Crickets in November 1958 and pulled in pre-outlaw Waylon Jennings on bass, Allsup on guitar, and drummer Carl Bunch. Frankie Sardo did opening vocals. Besides Valens, Richardson and Holly, Dion DiMucci and The Belmonts were on the tour which zigzagged across the Midwest.
Clear Lake is being by produced by Prix Productions in association with Holly’s widow, the Buddy Holly Educational Foundation, and BMG, which manages the Holly Estate publishing. The film is budgeted at $12 million.
Production begins in February to coincide with the 60th anniversary of Holly’s death.