Tommy Allsup, the Oklahoma-born guitarist who “lost” an infamous coin flip for a spot on an airplane flight that ended in the deaths of Buddy Holly, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson and Richie Valens in 1959, died Wednesday according to his son, Austin Allsup.
In addition to playing with Holly as one of the Crickets, Allsup worked with Roy Orbison and country music legends Bob Wills and Willie Nelson, among many others.
Representatives for Austin Allsup posted the following message on his Facebook page Wednesday:
“A message from Austin’s team: Austin’s father, Guitar legend and Western Swing Icon, Tommy Allsup has passed away today. We want to continue to pray for Austin and his family and those immediately effected by his passing.
Western swing guitarist and music producer Tommy Allsup was born on his Cherokee mother’s allotment near Owasso, Oklahoma, the twelfth of thirteen children. After meeting Buddy Holly in 1958, Tommy Allsup toured with Buddy Holly & The Crickets. It was the winter of 1959 when Buddy Holly, after a concert in Clear Lake, Iowa hired a pilot to take them to Fargo, North Dakota. Ritchie Valens had never flown before and flipped a coin with Tommy for a place on the plane. Holly and Valens were killed along with The Big Bopper on February 3, 1959, when for unknown reasons the plane crashed. Tommy led The Crickets, which included Waylon Jennings, and finished the tour.”