On February 3, 1959, rock and roll musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson were killed in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa, together with the pilot, Roger Peterson. The event later became known as “The Day the Music Died”, after singer-songwriter Don McLean so referred to it in his song “American Pie”.
At the time, Holly and his band, consisting of Waylon Jennings, Tommy Allsup, and Carl Bunch, were playing on the “Winter Dance Party” tour across the Midwest. Rising artists Valens and Richardson had joined the tour as well.
The long journeys between venues on board the cold, uncomfortable tour buses adversely affected the performers, with cases of flu and even frostbite. After stopping at Clear Lake to perform, and frustrated by such conditions, Holly fatefully decided to charter a plane to reach their next venue in Moorhead, Minnesota. Richardson, who had flu, swapped places with Jennings, taking the latter’s seat on the plane, while Allsup lost his seat to Valens on a coin toss.
Soon after take-off, late at night and in poor, wintry weather conditions, the pilot lost control of the light aircraft, a Beechcraft Bonanza, which subsequently crashed into a cornfield, leaving no survivors.
This is the twentieth in a series of drawings dedicated to my childhood heroes, the WWE Fallen Superstars. I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Crash Holly. Not quite sure why. Perhaps it was his short stature as a wrestler compared to the behemoths of professional wrestling. A 22-time WWE Hardcore Champion, a former Light Heavyweight Champion, European Champion and a tag team champion with Hardcore Holly, the “Houdini of Hardcore” was always entertaining inside and outside the squared circle.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t understand why people think it’s okay to go to airports, hotels, restaurants, etc. just to meet wrestlers. I mean, I get the appeal, but it’s the justification I don’t get. There are already so few moments of privacy in a wrestler’s busy life that I would feel like an asshole for interrupting it. Have you ever thought about why wrestlers look so miserable in fan pics, or go out of their way to make goofy faces? (looking at you, Dean Ambrose.) It’s probably because they’re constantly harassed by fans everywhere they go. Seriously, if you show up at 4:00 in the morning at the airport wearing a Cena shirt, you’re definitely not there to fly out.
Part of is to be expected. Wrestlers become public figures when they are featured in the world’s biggest wrestling company. They’re celebrities, and unfortunately celebrities don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy when they are in public. If I am legally allowed to occupy the same public space you are, it is reasonable that I may approach you and say something. Running into Randy Orton at Starbucks is not what I am referring to. Coincidence is coincidence.
I am referring to the people who see them arrive at the airport, watch them check their cars out at their rental places, follow them to their hotels/gyms/restaurants, and wait for opportunities to approach them, usually for a photo or autograph. These are places they have no reason to be otherwise, but not for the fact that they were following wrestlers around.
I ask, what the hell for? What could you possibly get from this moment, other than a picture where your favorite wrestler looks miserable, or an autograph they deliberately sabotage so you can’t sell it? Was the effort worth it? Furthermore, wrestlers are people too, and they may have pretty good memories. If they recognize you as the crazy fangirl who keeps bothering them, they’re going to end up going off on you to leave them alone.
I’m not just being pious. Many moons ago, I was a young woman who went out with friends after a WWE house show in Texas, and we ended up meeting and hanging out with Crash Holly all night. In respect to his memory, I will say that I didn’t care for him, and leave it at that. However, I was still with my friends and wanted to have fun. The following morning, Crash was flying from Houston to I don’t remember where, and because this was pre-9/11, we were able to walk with him all the way up to the gate, where many, MANY, WWE superstars were waiting to board the flight. My friends were going apeshit because they finally met Jeff Hardy, but I was having a normal conversation with him. I think we were talking about tattoos. Anyway, I just had a moment that day where I suddenly felt very stupid for being at that airport, in everyone’s way, when I had no business being there at all.
So essentially, think twice about bothering talent outside of their zone. When they’re not performing as their characters, they’re entitled to privacy and respect like everyone else. Leave them alone. Trust me, they’ll probably appreciate it and will reward the effort with a nicer picture the day you do truly run into them by coincidence.