The Day the Music Died (and a Bonus)

I don’t have anything to add to what I said about the Super Bowl yesterday, except this”

Gladys Knight is just as perfect as she was all those many years ago when we were all singing along. Perfect.

You can watch it here since the NFL will not allow anyone else to show it.

And something connected. Sixty years ago last Sunday was “The Day the Music Died” in Don McLean’s perfect phrase. That night Buddy Holly, weary of his cold and constantly malfunctioning tour bus chartered an aircraft to take him to the next town. His bass player, Waylon Jennings, gave his place to The Big Bopper. They were joined by Ritchie Valens.

The £ Independent says this:

Twelve years later, on his single “American Pie”, Don McLean dubbed the tragedy “the day the music died”. It was an apt description; all three singers on board had talent in abundance. The Big Bopper’s smash hit, the playful, rockabilly number “Chantilly Lace”, had made him a star, and Ritchie Valens was helping pioneer the Mexican American Chicano rock movement. But it was Holly who was changing the landscape of rock’n’roll music.

With his goofy, bespectacled look and frequent falsetto tenor, Holly was a far cry from the rock stars who came before him. At the time, it was virtually unheard of for a singer to write his own songs, arrange them, and orchestrate the instrumentals too – but Holly was a different breed of artist.

Having made a name for himself opening for Elvis Presley, he signed to Decca Records at the age of 19, in 1956. After a handful of disappointing singles, though, he was dropped and instructed not to record with anyone else for five years. Undeterred, he teamed up with producer Norman Petty, formed a new group called The Crickets to get around that five-year clause, and released the honky-tonk anthem “That’ll Be the Day”. This time around, something about his hiccupping vocals, watertight melodies and simple but decisive rhythm and blues guitars struck a chord with young music fans.

“Buddy was distinctive and unmistakeable, both visually and aurally,” said The Searchers’ Frank Allen in Spencer Leigh’s biography Buddy Holly: Learning the Game. “While we were skiffling away, trying to find a fourth chord, Buddy was giving us the opening bars of “That’ll Be The Day” with unbelievable expertise and on an instrument that was the equivalent of a bullet-finned ’59 Cadillac. He looked gangly and geeky with those glasses but that guitar made him unbelievably cool. It was the revenge of the nerd. His records are almost without exception terrific.”

And you know, still now, sixty years on, they still Rock the House. Far better than most of what has come since. Admit it. Every one of you can hear Chantilly Lace or Peggy Sue in your head just from the mention of the titles. They died 60 years ago, and they’re still the best rock songs around. Who says?

The show, meanwhile, went on. After the crash, the Winter Dance Party tour continued for two more weeks, with Holly’s shoes being filled by a handful of up-and-coming artists, Frankie Avalon, Jimmy Clanton and Bobby Vee among them.

But no one could truly replace him. In the six decades that have followed, Holly has come to be considered a pioneer, a revolutionary, and one of the most influential creative forces in early rock’n’roll. Rolling Stone ranked him No 13 on their list of the 100 greatest artists, and he was among the first musicians to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

He also influenced just about every rock star that followed him. John Lennon and Paul McCartney studied his records as teenagers, mimicked his persona, and even named their band, The Beatles, in homage to The Crickets. Elton John, despite having 20-20 vision, started wearing horn-rimmed glasses at the age of 13 to imitate Holly. A 17-year-old Bob Dylan attended his Minnesota show two nights before his death. “Something about him seemed permanent and he filled me with conviction,” Dylan said in his 2016 Nobel Lecture. “Then out of the blue, the most uncanny thing happened. He looked at me right straight there in the eye and he transmitted something, something I didn’t know what. It gave me the chills.”

The Rolling Stones’s Keith Richards, who modelled his early guitar playing on Holly, put it simply. “Holly passed it on via The Beatles, and via us,” he said. “He’s in everybody.” The music never really died after all.

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13 Responses to The Day the Music Died (and a Bonus)

  1. Scoop says:

    I remember awaking to the sad news many moons ago. Used to listen to all their music on the radio when I could pick up Buffalo NY and listen to a great DJ known as the Hound. He was our version of Wolfman Jack.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. the unit says:

    I’ve always been mostly naive. Was only a while back, not many years ago really, that I associated that song with demise of Buddy Holly. And I read it somewhere even then.
    Never caught the underlying messages in music. Like ‘Wake Up Little Susie’, I thought maybe she fell asleep at the Moonlite Drive In theater…or maybe a football game. (After realizing it was about sex (again years later),… still it always me who fell asleep 🙂 )
    Must’ve been school year ’55-’56, 8th grade, in a discussion with some fellows outside the gym. Allen F. (name withheld, but still remember) asked “do have to have sex to have a baby?” Only remember what I said to answer. “I don’t know. I just know you have to be married”.
    Anyway, I don’t vote democrat. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. the unit says:

    Ok, we all waiting for State of the Union.
    Jist for fun in thinking of Scoop’s proclamations at AATW about his faith, not defense of, but of ways of presenting. 🙂 And more fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. the unit says:

    Yep, even Bozo has, maybe, had to acknowledge his his good sense in his presentations. Results…Christians still here 2000+ years now. Islamists and leftist trying to catch up. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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