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The rarest and only known Buddy Holly poster from “The Day the Music Died,” when an airplane carrying Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Popper (real name J.P. Richardson) crashed and killed all three, sold at auction for a record-breaking $447,000. 

Holly, Valens and Richardson had just played a concert in Clear Lake, Iowa, and were headed to Moorehead, Minnesota, for their 12th stop on the ill-fated Winter Dance Party tour, when their single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza crashed in a cornfield during bad winter weather on Feb. 3, 1959, killing everyone on board. 

The tragedy, which killed some of rock and roll’s biggest names at the time, would later become immortalized as “The Day the Music Died,” in Don McLean’s 1971 hit “American Pie.” 

A rare Buddy Holly poster made history as the most expensive music poster ever sold at auction for $447,000.

Heritage Auctions

The poster is an original advertisement window card memorializing the show that never was, and one of the first tragedies in rock and roll history. It had originally been stuck to a telephone pole, but had fallen to the ground a day or two after the show and was picked up by a maintenance man who took it home and placed it in a closet where it was forgotten about for about 50 years, Howard said in an online interview

The poster has no pin or nail holes, missing parts or fading, but does show a white stain on both sides from the sticky substance used to hang it up, which was left intact on the poster as a minor, but important detail to the story, according to the website

Heritage Auctions said the winning bid for the poster sold for $447,000 — breaking the previous record for a rock poster, which was $275,000 for a print from the Beatles’ 1966 show at Shea Stadium

“Heritage is thrilled to break the previous record for a concert poster by more than $170,000,” said Pete Howard, director of concert posters at Heritage Auctions, “but not the least bit surprised, given the importance, the uniqueness and the gravitas of this amazing window card, which advertised rock and roll’s first tragedy.”

The auctioneer has had just one other poster from the Winter Dance Party tour — for a show in Mankato, Minnesota — that sold for $125,000 in April 2020.