Clear Lake, a biopic about Buddy Holly’s 1958 tour and his tragic death, is in development. Per Variety, creative executives Rick French (French/West/Vaughan) and Patrick Shanahan (Buffalo Films) are working on the script with Holly’s widow, Maria Elena Holly.
Production is slated to begin in February, coinciding with the 60th anniversary of the Clear Lake, Iowa plane crash that claimed the lives of Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, as well as pilot Roger Peterson. For its harrowing effect on early rock ‘n’ roll, the Feb. 3, 1959 accident is called “The Day The Music Died,” a line immortalized by Don McLean’s 1971 tale of lost innocence, “American Pie.”
As many country music fans know, Waylon Jennings briefly played bass for Holly after the singer parted ways with The Crickets. Both Jennings and guitarist Tommy Allsup allegedly came close to claiming a seat on the aircraft–although co-headliner Dion Dimucci of Dion and The Belmonts tells a contradicting story. However the tour bus and plane seats got divvied up, it’s undeniable that the fateful trip to a Winter Dance Party Tour stop in Minnesota instantly impacted popular culture in the United States. To this day, even casual listeners can list off the three headlining artists killed in the crash.
The film covers more than the events surrounding Holly’s last gig at the Surf Ballroom and rock music’s most hallowed plane crash site. It also explores Holly’s 1958 tour with Clarence Collins, the founder of Little Anthony and The Imperials. That lesser-known yet equally important road trip paired white and African American musicians in an attempt to entertain and educate a segregated society.
No word on the cast yet, although it’d be amazing to see a clean-shaven Shooter Jennings fill his Dad’s shoes in a serious acting role–assuming he has such ambitions.