Fifties Music Featured in “The Day the Music Died”

In 1959, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and “Big Bopper” J.P. Richardson perished in a plane crash while on tour through the Midwest. In honor of the performers who created some of the most memorable music of all time, Mark Shurilla will present “The Day the Music Died” at the Door Community Auditorium on Saturday, October 24 at 8 pm.

Shurilla, who performs Buddy Holly’s music, is pleased to bring the show to Door County.

“Wisconsin is very important to the music of the ’50s and particularly to the Winter Dance Party, which was the tour they were on when they died,” Shurilla explained.

When the Winter Dance Party of 1959, began its tour the itinerary included 24 cities in three weeks. The four headliners – including Dion and the Belmonts – had performed in Green Bay’s Riverside Ballroom on February 1. The next day, they performed at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, a last-minute addition to the tour. Their 1 am flight following the show was scheduled to transport them to Moorhead, Minnesota for the next performance.

The plane never arrived, crashing only five miles from the airport of its departure. The tragedy was forever immortalized in Don McLean’s song “American Pie.”

Shurilla emphasizes, “We are not doing an impersonation act; rather, this is a dedication to the spirit of the founders of rock and roll, the great American pop music.”

Joining Shurilla on stage are Liam Ford who performs a tribute to Johnny Cash, John Van Thiel paying homage to Elvis, Jayne Taylor singing Brenda Rothenberg, and Danny J., the “Pavarotti of Rock.” Four-year-old Valor Yost, the “Kid in Black,” will make a special appearance.

Tickets for “The Day the Music Died” are $28 and $25, and are available at the DCA box office, via, or by calling 920.868.2728.