COIN TOSS (February 2, 1959)
Heads or Tails? Sometimes the flip of a coin can literally be the difference between life and death.
Such was the case for Buddy Holly’s guitarist Tommy Allsup. The 1959 plane crash that took the lives of Buddy, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper very nearly claimed Tommy’s as well. Pestered by teenage Richie (who had never flown before) for his seat, Tommy agreed to a coin toss. It came up heads –Richie got the seat, Tommy kept his life.
Shortly before the plane took off, Tommy gave his wallet to Buddy and asked him to use his ID to pick up a letter that was awaiting him in the Fargo, ND post office. Buddy agreed.
This wallet was recovered from the wreckage. It’s a perfectly-preserved time capsule of a working musician’s life in the late ‘50s.
Tommy went on to become a legendary session player with an incredible story about that cold night in 1959. His dark and clever sense of humor was in evidence when he called the bar he owned “The Heads-Up Tavern”.