On This Day: Remembering February 3, 'The Day the Music Died'

Published February 3, 2024

Today in History: On this Saturday, February 3, we have reached the 34th day of 2024, leaving 332 days remaining in the year.

The Day the Music Died

February 3 marks a poignant moment in the world of music. On this day back in 1959, three icons of rock-and-roll—Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. 'The Big Bopper' Richardson—tragically lost their lives in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa. This event has since been immortalized as 'the day the music died.'

Historical Events on February 3

Critical events have shaped the landscape of history on this very day. In 1865, during the Civil War, a failed attempt at peace discussion occurred between President Abraham Lincoln and Confederate Vice President Alexander H. Stephens. The 16th Amendment, establishing a federal income tax, was ratified on February 3, 1913. That same day in 1917, the United States severed diplomatic ties with Germany and an American cargo ship was sunk by a German U-boat.

World War II saw the tragic sinking of the SS Dorchester on February 3, 1943, where only around 230 out of more than 900 on board survived. Meanwhile, space exploration received a boost when the Soviet probe Luna 9 successfully soft-landed on the moon on February 3, 1966. Political events, such as the U.S. House rejecting aid to the Nicaraguan Contras in 1988, and the historic launch of space shuttle Discovery with both the first Russian cosmonaut and, later, the first female pilot, marked advancements and changes in international relations and space travel.

Further pivotal moments include the 1998 ski gondola accident in Italy caused by a U.S. Marine plane, the sinking of an Egyptian ferry in 2006, and in 2009, Eric Holder's inauguration as the first Black U.S. attorney general. February 3, 2013, elicited tragedy when ex-police officer Christopher Dorner began his deadly rampage.

The date also holds significance in sports and pop culture history. In 2018, stars like Ray Lewis and Terrell Owens were elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The first impeachment trial of President Donald Trump reached its closing arguments on February 3, 2020. And in 2021, country music artist Morgan Wallen faced severe repercussions following the release of a video showing him using a racial slur.

Notable Birthdays

February 3 is also a day of celebration for many famous individuals. Football legends like Fran Tarkenton and Bob Griese, musicians Dave Davies and Lee Ranaldo, and actors including Blythe Danner, Nathan Lane, and Isla Fisher, along with many others, all share this date as their birthday.

History, Music, Events