Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: The airplane that carried Buddy Holly to his death was named 'American Pie.'
Origins: Don McLean's recollection of the day (as a paperboy) he cut open a stack of newspapers to find that Buddy Holly had died led him to coin the term "the day the music died" to describe
The starting point of most analyses of the song is its title: "American Pie." What does "American Pie" refer to? We could makes some guesses, but this article is about what American Pie is not: it is not, as widely reported on various lists of trivia that circulate on the Internet, the name of the airplane on which Buddy Holly was a passenger when he died.
In an attempt to gain some extra rest time (and avoid traveling on buses prone to mechanical breakdowns and faulty heating), during a grueling and cold "Winter Dance Party" tour in early 1959, Holly chartered a private plane to fly himself and two band members to Fargo, North Dakota immediately after their
The airplane, chartered through Dwyer's Flying Service in Clear Lake, Iowa, had no name. Its only designation was its wing registration number, N3794N. How the rumor that its name was American Pie (thus providing Don McLean the title for his song) started circulating is unknown, but it is undeniably false. As Don McLean himself said in 1999:
The growing urban legend that "American Pie" was the name of Buddy Holly’s plane the night it crashed, killing him, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper, is equally untrue. I created the term.(Another rumor regarding the title, that it was chosen because McLean once dated a Miss America contestant, appears to be equally spurious.)
Addendum: Over the years, the list of people who "gave up a seat" on this ill-fated flight has grown to rival the list of persons claiming to have been invited to Sharon Tate's "quiet evening at home" the night the Manson family struck. Although Buddy Holly initially may have asked around to find other tour members
Last updated: 5 May 2007
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