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Carl Bunch was born in Big Spring TX on November 24, 1939. Growing up in nearby Odessa, his early aspirations of being a dancer were shattered one day when doctors discovered bone tumors in his leg. After spending over a year in the hospital, Carl decided to take up drumming to get back the strength and coordination in his feet . Although he believed he would eventually go back to dancing, his life took another direction as drumming became a major part of his life. By the time he was 16 he was playing regularly with Richard Porter's band called the Poor Boys. Ronnie Smith sang with the group and soon the Poor Boys were a local sensation. Carl also began filling in for another band about that time--Roy Orbison and his Teen Kings were new and just getting their start.

By 1957-58, more local boys, Buddy Holly & group the Crickets were recording in Clovis, NM at Norman Petty's studios. Carl was visitor to the studio then and soon met guitarist Tommy Allsup. Allsup was doing session work for Petty and Buddy had used him on some of his own recordings. By December of 1958, Holly was looking for a new band. Having split with the Crickets and needing money badly, he was forced to go back out on the road. He recruited friend and local DJ, Waylon Jenning to play bass and Tommy Allsup as lead guitarist. Buddy also remembered Carl and his drum work and asked Tommy to hire him for the tour. Carl was soon on his way to New York to rehearse with Buddy and the band who would back up all the acts--Ritchie Valens, JP (The Big Bopper) Richardson, Dion & the Belmonts and Frankie Sardo. The Winter Dance Party began Jan. 23 1959 in Milwaukee, WI. Criss-crossing the Mid-west, the tour would soon become a nightmare to all involved. On Jan. 31 after a show in Duluth, MN the tour would experience one of many bus breakdowns. Stranded in the middle of nowhere with no heat, the performers faced the bitter cold. After trying to flag down help in waist deep snow, Carl soon discovered just how dangerous the Midwestern winters could be. Hours later as the others performers were rescued, he was taken to a hospital in Ironwood Michigan, unable to continue the tour. Due to the unbelievable cold, Carl had developed frostbite.

Just one night later after a show at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Iowa, Buddy Holly would make a decision to charter a small plane to their next date in Fargo, ND. Although the flight was first meant to be just for Buddy and his band, Waylon Jennings would soon give his seat to JP Richardson. The Big Bopper had the flu and wanted to fly ahead to get a shot and some much needed rest. Ritchie Valens would also win a seat on the plane after flipping a coin with Tommy Allsup. Although he was known to be nervous about flying and small planes in general, Ritchie would, ironically, beg Tommy all night for his seat on the plane. The small Beechcraft Bonanza took off about 1:00 am from the Mason City airport and crashed minutes later killing all aboard. Still in the hospital, Carl soon heard the news of the plane crash. Crushed, he thought about fate and how he had missed the flight. Although he would rejoin the group a few days later, he would never forget the last days of the 1959 tour. Waylon Jennings and fellow Poor Boys member Ronnie Smith would sing Buddy's songs as the remaining members of the group (and the audience) wiped away tears. In every sense of the word it was the day the music died. After returning to TX, Carl continued drumming, filling in once again for good friend, Roy Orbison. He also recorded with Ronnie Smith and his new group, the Jitters in Petty's studios in Clovis, NM. After a short stint in the army in the summer of 1959, Carl continued in the music business. Down through the years, he has played with many famous artists: Frankie Avalon, Jimmy Clanton, Fabian, Roger Miller, Marty Robbins, Charlie Pride, Faron Young, Bobby Vee, Dotty West & Hank William Jr. are just a few.

Carl also followed another path in life after inviting Christ into his life in the 1980s. He and wife Dorothy became missionaries for the Salvation Army where they were able to share the gospel on a day-to-day basis. Carl earned a masters degree and later, his doctorate in clinical psychotheology from the Friends International Christian University. He continues to share his faith in the Lord with everyone he meets.

Today Carl Bunch and Dorothy live in southern California and enjoy taking care of their grandchildren. They also enjoy staying young by helping keep the music alive that Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens & the Big Bopper played all those years ago.

In May of 1999, Carl visited Ritchie Valens hometown of Pacoima, CA wherehe met Ritchie's family for the very first time at the yearly Ritchie Valens music festival. September 1999 also saw Carl speaking at the symposium at Texas Tech on behalf of Buddy Holly and the music that he helped to create during the birth of rock and roll.

In 2000, Carl rejoined the winter dance party once again with John Mueller, and Jay P. Richardson Jr. as they helped to raise money for scholarships in the names of all three stars who died in the 1959 plane crash. This year in 2002, Carl was thrilled to once again play drums with old friend Tommy Allsup for the Rock & Roll Dance Party tour. Peggy Sue, Ernie Valens, the Roses and others helped to bring the rock & roll beat back to the fans in the Midwest and raise more scholarship money. Simply put, Carl says, "I had a ball!"

Carl really loves and appreciates all the fans and friends he has met along the way and would like to hear from you. Please visit his website: & be sure to sign his guest book so he will know you were there. You can also write to Carl at

May the music never die!