American icons: Holly, Bonanzas and Strats

In an era when many planes were still made of wood and fabric, the Bonanza was sophisticated and distinctive with its magnesium alloy skin and V tail that Beechcraft called the Ruddervator.

The first Bonanzas became available in 1947, just a few years before Fender released its own sleek, sexy machine: the Stratocaster guitar. Most Americans’ first experience with the Strat was watching Buddy Holly play “That’ll Be the Day” and “Peggy Sue” on the Ed Sullivan Show.

History doesn’t record whether Roger Peterson ever saw Holly perform, or if he had any passions aside from flying. Peterson convinced his boss at Dwyer Flying Service to buy the Bonanza that that crashed into a corn field 1959, killing Peterson, Holly, Ricky Valens, and the Big Bopper.

Peterson “was a good looking, smart kid, who listened and worked hard,” Jerry Dwyer said in a 2008 interview. “Anybody that had any children would love to have him for a son.”

Under the right circumstances it’s easy to think of these two young men becoming friends. Peterson was 21, Holly was a 22, and each was recently married. One became famous; the other a footnote.

Stratocasters and Bonanzas are both still in production, and each has legions of fans. Likewise, The Buddy Holly Story seems only to grow more popular, even after 27 years of production.

We’re happy to bring this special production to Spokane, and hope you enjoy the show.


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