This tragic tale of a (fictional) accident on flight 1203 in which a young man lost his beloved fiancée was released as a double A-sided single with "Walk Right Back." It topped the UK charts despite initially being banned by the BBC as its lyrics were considered too upsetting to play on the radio. The song also reached #8 in the US.
Teen tragedy songs were big at the time. Ray Peterson's "Tell Laura I Love Her" and Mark Dinning's "Teen Angel" were released a short time earlier.
The song was written by John D. Loudermilk, one of a several notable compositions by the American singer-songwriter. His other credits include The Raiders #1 single, "Indian Reservation (The Lament of the Cherokee Reservation Indian)," The Nashville Teens' hit, "Tobacco Road" and The Casinos' Top Ten tune, "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye."
The husband-and-wife team of Boudleaux and Felice Bryant penned many of the Everly Brothers' hits and they helped out on this song as well. Phil Everly recalled: "I remember that when we were doing it, Felice got on the phone and called the airlines to find out about the flight numbers, because we didn't want to use a real flight number. She's the one that settled on that 1203."
The Everly Brothers rarely performed this live, as they often had to fly and didn't want to tempt fate. They did play it at their 1983 reunion concert in London.
The duo relocated to Los Angeles and took acting lessons before recording this song. Don hated the experience but claimed it came in handy on this song, where he delivered a narration in the middle of the song.