1959 Tommy Dee – Three Stars
Tommy Dee grew up in Boston and pursued a career as a disk jockey. He worked at He became a disk jockey at KCLS in Flagstaff, Arizona, and then at KOFA in Yuma.
During his first week at KPXM in San Bernardino, a plane crash cost the lives of Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens (an event immortalized as “The day the music died” in the song American Pie). He wrote a song as a tribute to the three and recorded it with his guitar on a tape recorder that his neighbor owned. His initial intention was to broadcast the recording on his radio show, but others encouraged him to record it as a single.
He took the song to Sylvester Cross, who owned Crest Records and American Music. Sylvester offered to have Eddie Cochran record the song, but a session where they worked on the song failed to come up with a recording they were happy with.
Within a week, Sylvester took Tommy to Hollywood’s Gold Star Studios and had him record the song with help from Carol Kay and the Teen-Aires. The resulting single peaked at #11 on the Hot 100 in 1959.
Tommy went on the road to promote his record. He appeared on American Bandstand twice and toured with Eddie Cochran and Conway Twitty.
Tommy returned to work as a disk jockey but recorded more singles over the next 22 years. Several of his releases were attempts to commemorate other tragedies, including the death of Patsy Cline. He also recorded An Open Letter (To Caroline and John-John) after the assassination of President Kennedy. He never reached the Hot 100 again, but came close with a single in 1981. He eventually became a talent scout in Nashville.
Several sources claim that Carol Kay began performing as Carol Kaye. She played bass on about ten thousand recordings and became one of the most well-known members of the Wrecking Crew.
Eddie Cochran died in 1960. His record company released his version of Three Stars in 1966.
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