The Quick 10: 10 Musical Artists Who Died in Plane Crashes

Music fans know today as "The Day the Music Died" because a plane carrying Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper crashed in Iowa, killing them all. The site of the crash is only about an hour and a half away from Des Moines, so it's a pretty big deal around here, especially since this year is the 50th anniversary. But there seems to be an inordinate number of recording artists who have died in plane crashes. I mean, probably not "“ since so many of them fly on small planes to get from gig to gig, it stands to reason that the number of deaths by plane crash would be higher in the music industry than any other profession. But still... it seems like a lot, and they're all certainly very tragic. Today's Q10 pays homage to 10 other music greats who met their ends via aviation accident.

patsy1. Patsy Cline, 1963. Patsy may have had a premonition that she was going to die "“ according to June Carter Cash and Loretta Lynn, Patsy told them that something didn't feel right and she didn't think she was going to be around much longer. That was in 1962, and in 1963, the plane taking her from Kansas City to Nashville crashed just about 90 miles away from its destination.
2. Ricky Nelson, 1985. There are lots of things you might know Ricky from - The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, his teen idol days or as the dad of Gunnar and Matthew. He was also married to Mark Harmon's older sister, Kristin. By the late "˜70s, though, he was in a lot of debt and his wife left him and took the kids. He started touring almost constantly to try to dig his way out of his financial hole. It was a 1985 nostalgia rock tour of the South that would be his undoing "“ after playing a show in Guntersville, Alabama, he and his band were headed to Dallas to play a New Year's Eve show. It crashed northeast of Dallas, killing all seven passengers (the pilots survived). Investigation later showed that a fire had broken out in the cabin and the pilots attempted an emergency landing.

3. Lynyrd Skynyrd members Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, and his sister, backup singer Cassie Gaines, 1977. The band was flying from Greenville, S.C., to Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge; the plane went down about five miles outside of Gillsburg, Mississippi. There is a lot of speculation as to why the plane actually crashed, but the official accident report says that it was a combination of fuel exhaustion, engine malfunction and inadequate flight planning.

4. Otis Redding and the Bar-Kays, 1967. Redding and his band were headed from Cleveland to Madison, Wisconsin, on December 9. They were almost there when the plane crashed into Lake Monona in Madison. The lone survivor of the crash, Bar-Kay member Ben Cauley, says there were at least some survivors even after the crash "“ he heard some of his fellow passengers calling for help, but help didn't arrive fast enough and the frigid waters claimed them.

rhoads5. Randy Rhodes, 1982. Chalk this one up to drugs and stupidity. Rhodes toured with Ozzy Osbourne after he went solo; you can hear his guitar work on Crazy Train and Mr. Crowley (among others). Anyway, he, Ozzy and other members of the band were on their way to Orlando, but they stopped in Leesburg, where they picked up one of the tour bus driver's planes. The driver took some band members for rides, and was flying Rhodes and seamstress Rachel Youngblood around when the accident occurred. Aycock "buzzed" the top of the tour bus carrying the rest of the band members a couple of times, but the third time he did it, a wing of the plane clipped the bus and sent the plane spiraling. All three of the people on the plane were killed instantly, and were burned so badly that only dental records could identify them. It was later revealed that the pilot/tour bus driver had cocaine in his system at the time.

6. Will Rogers, 1935. Will was a big fan of aviation and was embarking upon a flight around the world with his friend, aviator Wiley Post. On August 15, they made a brief stop at Walakpa Bay, just south of Barrow, Alaska. When they tried to take off again, the plane stalled and crashed into the river, killing them both.

7. Stevie Ray Vaughan, 1990. Stevie was touring with Double Trouble and Joe Cocker in the "In Step" tour; the tour manager had rented a helicopter for members of the tour to get from Elk Horn, Wisconsin to Chicago. Despite a little bit of fog, three of the four helicopters departed without a hitch, but the pilot of Stevie Ray's helicopter failed to reach the altitude necessary to clear the hill at the takeoff site and crashed into it. Everyone died. Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray's brother, Jimmie, were called to identify his body.

aaliyah8. Aaliyah, 2001. Aaliyah had just finished shooting a music video in the Bahamas and was on the way back to Miami when her plane crashed. It was grossly overloaded because her crew insisted on bringing all of their heavy equipment back on the plane instead of sending it on a later flight. In addition, the pilot, Luis Morales, had apparently faked documents for his FAA license, citing hundreds of hours that he never actually flew. His autopsy also showed cocaine and alcohol in his blood, and it was his first day flying with the company that Aaliyah's team had hired to get them back to Florida. Her family later filed a wrongful death lawsuit and settled out of court.

9. John Denver, 1997. Although he was an experienced pilot with more than 2,700 hours, Denver was flying an unfamiliar plane "“ the experimental Long-EZ aircraft "“ and crashed it off the coast of California. The official investigation thought that he probably accidentally pushed the right rudder pedal when he was trying to turn to reach the fuel handle, causing the plane to suddenly plunge downward.

10. Jim Croce, 1973. After finishing up a concert in Natchitoches, Louisiana, Croce was flying to Sherman, Texas for his next gig. It was a clear evening and visibility was excellent, but for some reason the pilot didn't get the plane high enough in the air to clear a pecan tree at the end of the runway. Reports speculate that the pilot, who had a history of heart problems, may have had a heart attack. Everyone on board died, including Croce's good friend and musical partner Maury Muehleisen.

10 Sweet Facts About Candy Canes

The sweet and striped shepherd’s hooks can be found just about everywhere during the holiday season. It's time you learned a thing or two (or 10) about them.


While the origins of the candy cane are a bit murky, legend has it that they first appeared in hooked form around 1670. Candy sticks themselves were pretty common, but they really took shape when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany got the bright idea of twisting them to look like shepherd’s hooks. He then handed them out to kids during church services to keep them quiet.


It’s no surprise, then, that it was a German immigrant who introduced the custom to America. The first reference we can find to the tradition stateside is 1847, when August Imgard of Wooster, Ohio, decked his home out with the sugary fare.


Candy canes without the red don’t seem nearly as cheery, do they? But that’s how they were once made: all white. We’re not really sure who or exactly when the scarlet stripe was added, but we do know that images on cards before the 1900s show snow white canes.


Most candy canes are around five inches long, containing only about 50 calories and no fat or cholesterol.


The world’s largest candy cane was built by Geneva, Illinois chef Alain Roby in 2012.  It was 51 feet long, required about 900 pounds of sugar, and was eventually smashed up with a hammer so people could take home a piece.


Fifty-four percent of kids suck on candy canes, compared to the 24 percent who just go right for the big crunch. As you may have been able to guess, of those surveyed, boys were nearly twice as likely to be crunchers.


According to the National Confectioners Association, about 1.2 billion candy canes are made annually, and 90 percent of those are sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Which honestly begs the question: Who’s buying the 10 percent in the off season?


Bobs (that’s right; no apostrophe) Candies was the first company to really hang its hat on the sweet, striped hook. Lt. Bob McCormack began making candy canes for his kids in the 1920s, and they were such a hit he decided to start mass-producing them. With the help of his brother-in-law, a Catholic priest named Gregory Harding Keller (and his invention, the Keller Machine), McCormack was eventually able to churn out millions of candy canes a day.


December 26 is National Candy Cane Day. Go figure.


Here’s how they make candy canes at Disneyland—it’s a painstaking (and beautiful) technique.

10 Actors Who Hated Their Own Films

1. Sylvester Stallone, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Sly doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to his film career. Despite co-starring with the delightful Estelle Getty as the titular violence-prone mother, Stallone knows just how bad the film was:

"I made some truly awful movies. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot was the worst. If you ever want someone to confess to murder, just make him or her sit through that film. They will confess to anything after 15 minutes."

2. Alec Guinness, Star Wars.

By the time he played Obi-Wan Kenobi in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope, Guinness had already appeared in cinematic classics like The Bridge on the River Kwai, Great Expectations and Lawrence of Arabia. During production, Guinness is reported to have said the following:

"Apart from the money, I regret having embarked on the film. I like them well enough, but it's not an acting job, the dialogue - which is lamentable - keeps being changed and only slightly improved, and I find myself old and out of touch with the young."

The insane amount of fame he won for the role as the wise old Jedi master took him somewhat by surprise and, ultimately, annoyed him. In his autobiography A Positively Final Appearance: A Journal, Guinness recalls a time he encountered an autograph-seeking fan who boasted to him about having watched Star Wars more than 100 times. In response, Guinness agreed to provide the boy an autograph under the condition that he promise never to watch the film again.

3. Bob Hoskins, Super Mario Brothers. He was in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. As far as I’m concerned, Bob Hoskins is forgiven for Super Mario Bros. Hoskins, though, doesn’t seem to be able to forgive himself. Last year the Guardian spoke with the veteran actor about his career and he summed up his feelings rather succinctly:

What is the worst job you've done?
Super Mario Brothers.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
Super Mario Brothers.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I wouldn't do Super Mario Brothers.

4. George Clooney, Batman & Robin. Sure, Batman & Robin made money. But by every other imaginable measure, the film was a complete failure, and a nightmare to the vast majority of the Caped Crusader’s most fervent fanatics. Star George Clooney recognized what a stinker he helped create and once plainly stated, “I think we might have killed the franchise.”

5. David Cross, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. When actors have a movie out, it's customary that they publicize the film by saying nice things about it. Earlier this year David Cross took a different approach. When it came to describing his new film Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, the veteran comedian — better known for Mr. Show and Arrested Development — went on Conan and called the film a “big commercial for Carnival Cruise Lines” and told people not to go see it.

6. Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up. Judd Apatow’s unplanned pregnancy comedy was a huge hit and helped cement her status as a bankable film actress. After the film’s release, however, Heigl didn’t have all good things to say. In fact, what she specifically said about it was that the film was:

"…A little sexist. It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys.”

7. Charlize Theron, Reindeer Games. The 2000 action film Reindeer Games starred Ben Affleck, Gary Sinese and Charlize Theron and was directed by John Frankenheimer. But it all somehow failed to come together. In the end the film lost a lot of money and compiled a wealth of negative reviews – including one from its star actress who simply said, “Reindeer Games was not a good movie.”

8. Mark Wahlberg, The Happening. Mark Wahlberg doesn’t exactly seem like a guy who lives his life afraid of trees. But that is the odd position M. Night Shyamalan’s 2008 film The Happening put him in. Wahlberg, as it turns out, doesn’t look back too fondly on the film. He went on record during a press conference for The Fighter when he described a conversation with a fellow actor:

"We had actually had the luxury of having lunch before to talk about another movie and it was a bad movie that I did. She dodged the bullet. And then I was still able to … I don’t want to tell you what movie … alright “The Happening.” F*** it. It is what it is. F***ing trees, man. The plants. F*** it. You can’t blame me for not wanting to try to play a science teacher. At least I wasn’t playing a cop or a crook."

9. John Cusack, Better Off Dead. John Cusack reportedly hated his cult 80s comedy so much that he walked out of the screening and later told the film’s director Steve Holland that Better Off Dead was "the worst thing I have ever seen" and he would "never trust you as a director again."

10 Christopher Plummer, The Sound of Music. The Sound of Music is considered a classic and has delighted many generations of fans. But the film's own lead actor, Christopher Plummer, didn't always sing its praises. Mr. Von Trapp himself declined to participate in a 2005 film reunion and, according to one acquaintance, has referred to the film as The Sound of Mucus.



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