Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Music Died 50 Years Ago Today

Today marks the 50th anniversary of one of rock and roll's earliest tragedies. On February 3rd 1959, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson (a.k.a. "The Big Bopper") all perished when their chartered plane crashed in a cornfield just outside Clear Lake, IA. It's only natural to ask "what might have been?" had the plane crash never occurred. This is esp. true of Holly, who was on his way to becoming a studio whiz at the time of his death.

One thing is certain... the deaths of Holly, Valens, and Richardson led to the creation of one of pop music's most enduring singles, American Pie by Don McLean. In the past, I have been quite vocal in my distaste for this song. However, I am getting to the point where I can tolerate at least some of it (sorry, but I don't ever see myself listening willingly to all 8 minutes and 33 seconds of it).

Although none of them made it to the age of 30, the music of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper will live on forever.

The player below includes a clip each of Buddy, Ritchie and The Big Bopper (performing Peggy Sue, Ooh My Head, and Chantilly Lace, respectively).


pjazzypar said...

The day the music died and they were singing "Bye Bye Miss American Pie" (real slow) drove my Chevy to the levy but the levy was dry (tempo increases)...You get my drift, but seriously I wonder what would have happened to these guys had they not been killed that night? I do think Buddy Holly would probably be considered a legend, much like Little Richard and Chuck Berry. I think death, rather than their music has made Ritchie Valens and certainly The Big Bopper much more memorable.

Mama Pajama said...

Every time I think of this tragedy I think of the movie La Bamba. I remember that Waylon Jennings (is that right?) gave up his seat on the plane to Valens to be nice since Valens was sick or something. I hate flying...and I especially hate small planes!

Kristi Mantoni said...

La Bamba is one of my favorite movies. So sad!!!!!

JohnH985 said...

A true tragedy thinking about what might have been with them.

PopArtDiva said...

Buddy Holly is a legend, so are The Big Bopper and Ritchie though to lesser degrees.

I remember when Ricky Nelson's plane crashed too - Man, it seems my whole generation of pop idols bit the dust one way or another!

Thanks for the tribute - it's good we keep their memories alive for our progeny.

Malcolm said...

Pjazzy and JohnH985: I'm a big fan of playing the "what if" game. I wonder what Buddy would have thought of the British Invasion (considering that many of those acts did remakes of his songs). Although their hit-making days were probably done, I think that at the very least Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper would have made some contributions behind the scenes (songwriting, production, etc.)

Mama PJ: According to sources, Waylon gave up his seat to The Big Bopper because The Bopper was sick; Valens won his seat in a coin toss with Tommy Allsop. However, I think the movie "La Bamba" might have portrayed it differently for dramatic purposes.

I'm not big on small planes either. Luckily, the times I've had to be on them have been brief.

Kristi Mantoni: Although it's been awhile since I've seen "La Bamba", I did enjoy it. I'm hoping they eventually make a movie about The Big Bopper to complete the "trilogy".

Pop Art Diva: Maybe it was just me, but I don't think nearly enough was made of the 50th anniversary of "The Day the Music Died". I believe you and I talked about this, but I hate it when pop culture pre-1970 doesn't get the attention it deserves.

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