What Happened to Buddy Holly's Wife?

January 27, 2024

Almost 60 years ago, rock'n'roll's most promising young star Buddy Holly was killed in a plane crash in Iowa along with Ritchie Valens and J. P. 'The Big Bopper' Richardson. The tragedy would inspire the classic Don McLean song American Pie, but the actual circumstances of the crash remain a mystery to this day.

Holly was a rising star who threw himself into his music career after high school and was attracting fans in their droves, despite the fact that he was only 22 when he died. He had already written his first album, produced young talent like Waylon Jennings and was even planning a tour when he was killed.

Maria Elena, the feisty Puerto Rican brunette who was just two months his senior, had met him only a few months earlier and they were engaged after a whirlwind romance. He was so smitten with her that he changed the lyrics of Peggy Sue, his follow up hit to That'll Be The Day, from "piggy suey" to "peggy sue."

After Holly's death, she dedicated herself to building the star's legacy. She inherited all the rights to his music, trademarks and images as well as half of his estate. Maria also made it her mission to keep his memory alive, hosting annual festivals and founding the Buddy Holly Educational Foundation.

But she won't be attending this year's festival in Clear Lake, a frozen field where her husband's plane crashed in 1959. Organizers were trying to negotiate an extension to the licensing agreement and Maria said she felt as though they were bullying her. She also believes that it's wrong to build a statue of her late husband when there are other needs in Lubbock such as scholarships for students.


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