Who's Flying the Plane - A Sad History of Musicians and Planes
    • MONDAY, AUGUST 27, 2018

    • Posted by: Nell Snow

    Post Malone had a rather exciting day last Tuesday. And by exciting I mean pants-peeingly terrifying. After two tires quite literally flew off his plane, it was forced to circle for five hours until it could make an emergency landing at Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, N.Y.

    Being several thousand feet in the air and not being sure precisely how you're getting down is, um, very scary, no matter the situation, and to make matters worse, Post Malone admitted to TMZ that he hates flying in the first place. I can't imagine this has helped his opinion much.

    But this incident got us thinking… musicians have really bad luck with planes. Like really bad luck. Considering that your chances of dying in a plane crash is one in 11 million (vs. one in 5,000 in a car crash), and that you're statistically more likely to be killed by…

    · - Lightning

    · - Food poisoning

    · - Falling out of bed

    · - Being a left handed person using a right handed product

    … musicians would seem to have the odds on their side. And yet, many choose to fly private planes, which can be many times more dangerous than commercial. And they often choose to take risks involving drugs and alcohol, crappy weather, or shoddy planes, which have landed them in danger. And most of them haven't fared as well as Post Malone. So here's a timeline of some of the most notable singers and musicians that we have lost to the skies.

    1. Buddy Holly

    The first time that the world experienced this shock even has its own title: The Day the Music Died. On this day (February 3rd, 1959), Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and Ritchie Valens (aka The Big Bopper), died when their small, prop engine plane was defeated by a snow storm. They were flying to Minnesota to perform after their tour bus broke down from the cold.

    Having lost three of the earliest pioneers of Rock Music, the world mourned. But the day wouldn't be preserved by rock history until almost a decade later. Don McLean made sure that the world would never forget when he wrote one of the most timeless and iconic songs of all time- American Pie.

    But February made me shiver

    With every paper I'd deliver

    Bad news on the doorstep

    I couldn't take one more step

    I can't remember if I cried

    When I read about his widowed bride

    Something touched me deep inside

    The day the music died

    2. Lynyrd Skynyrd

    According to everyone who knew him, Lynyrd Skynyrd's lead singer Ronnie Van Zant knew when he was going to die. He said many times that he'd never make it to thirty. And he was just 87 days away from his 30th birthday on October 20th, 1977,
    when he, guitarist Steve Gaines, and five others were killed when Lynyrd Skynyrd's chartered jet ran out of fuel. Maybe it didn't take a premonition to know that their plane was a death trap- band members were treated to the sight of flames shooting from one of the engines just two days earlier. But they had just one more flight on the thing before they traded it in, and they had a gig to get to.

    After the crash, the band, disbanded, but Gary Rossington and Allen Collens started a new band called the Rossington-Collins band, and were soon joined by their Lynyrd Skynyrd bandmates Billy Powell and Leon Wilkeson. They played an instrumental version of "Free-Bird" as their encore each time, as a tribute to their former bandmates. Lynyrd Skynyrd reunited in 1987, and are in fact on a farewell tour right now.

    3. John Denver

    John Denver was one of the most popular artists of the 70s, with a beautiful and distinctive singing voice. You at least know his song "Country Roads," and you probably know several others. Besides music, his greatest love was airplanes. He flew himself to his gigs and even collected vintage biplanes.

    John Denver might be the only person on this list that was piloting his own plane when he died. He shouldn't have even been flying- he'd had his medical license revoked because of his drinking problem. But he loved to fly. His death wasn't drug or alcohol related, he simply had issues properly switching over fuel tanks, and as he was twisting around in his seat to do so, he accidentally pressed down on his left steering pedal and sent his plane into a bank, with dramatic consequences.


    4. Aaliyah

    Aaliyah was a Brooklyn born pop singer that achieved national recognition for four chart topping albums. This included her debut album Age Ain't Nothing but a Number, who's title took on an ironic significance after details of the then 15 year old's illegal marriage with her mentor and her album's producer, R. Kelly, came to light.

    She had been nominated for 2 Grammy's and most thought her career was just getting started.

    On August 25th, 2001 (exactly 17 years from last Saturday) Aaliyah was finishing shooting a music video in the Bahamas when she and eight others were involved in a fatal plane crash. The pilot's license was falsified and he had been drinking. He also had traces of coke in his system. However, the plane was also 700 pounds over its weight limit, so it's hard to say the ultimate cause of this tragedy.

    Honorable mention: Stevie Ray Vaughan

    It seemed only right to mention Stevie Ray Vaughan on this list, despite his technical disqualification: he died in a helicopter crash, not a plane.

    Stevie Ray Vaughn almost single handedly reignited blues in the 80s. Hailed as one of the best guitarists of all time, he became huge on the Texas circuit before gaining national attention. He played as lead guitarist on David Bowie's album "Let's Dance," and soon after released his debut album, Texas Flood, which immediately received a huge amount of attention and praise.

    On August 27th 1990, (this day, exactly 28 years ago), Stevie Ray Vaughan was sitting in a helicopter when it crashed into a ski hill, killing him and three others.

    After his death, he completed one final dream when Family Style, his album with his brother Jimmie Vaughan, was released. It performed as well in the charts as his previous five albums, working its way upward as fans swarmed to purchase his swan song.

    And there's many, many more. Honestly so many more.

    So if you're a promising up and coming musician, or an established star (and if you are… hi), maybe stay away from airplanes. Or at the least stay away from rickety planes and intoxicated pilots. Actually, that's pretty good advice for everyone.

    But as sad as it is to remember all of the rock music legends that have died in the air, keep this list in mind the next time you're taking off your shoes for TSA. Maybe there are some advantages to not being rich enough to afford a private plane.

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