Remembering The Day The Music Died 60 Years Later

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Holly, Richardson & Valens (original source unknown).

On February 3, 1959 the world lost three rising stars in a plane crash in Clear Lake, Iowa: Charles Hardin Holley, known as Buddy Holly, who was 22, Jiles Perry “J. P.” Richardson Jr., known as The Big Bopper, who was 28 & Richard Steven Valenzuela, known as Ritchie Valens, who was 17. Don McLean referred to this tremendous loss as “the day the music died” in his 1971 iconic anthem, “American Pie”, because in many ways, music and the world were never quite the same after this tragedy. The date signifies a loss of innocence and in its place a cruel lesson about good people dying young and without warning, despite how bright their future looked.

In addition to their musical legacies, the singers left behind family.  For Holly it was his parents, three older siblings, a niece named Cindy Lou (whom he started to write a song for which eventually became “Peggy Sue”) and his wife, Maria Elena Santiago Holly.  She is still alive and owns the rights to all of Holly’s music and intellectual property.  She was pregnant when he died but suffered a miscarriage following news of the crash.  She co-founded the Buddy Holly Educational Foundation in 2010 with Peter Bradley.

Buddy Holly

Buddy Holly circa 1950’s (original source unknown).

For Richardson it was his wife, five year old daughter and son who was born two months after the crash.  All three have passed away.

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The Big Bopper circa 1950’s (original source unknown).

Valens was survived by his mother, four siblings, a sister in law, nephew and high school girlfriend Donna Ludwig, whom he paid tribute to in his song of the same name.  It became a Billboard Top 100 number two hit after Valens’ death.

Ritchie Valens
 Ritchie Valens circa 1957  (original source unknown).

Today I am sharing some songs to honor these men and today’s somber anniversary.

For Buddy Holly “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” (1958) & a clip of him and the Crickets performing “Rave On” (1958).

For the Big Bopper:  “Chantilly Lace” (1958) as performed on “American Bandstand”.

For Ritchie Valens:  His most well known song & my favorite “La Bamba” (1958) and a great clip of him performing “Ooh My Head” (1958) from the movie, “Go, Johnny, Go”, which was released four months after the crash.

And, of course, Don McLean’s “American Pie” (1971).

I do not own the rights to anything.  I am just sharing some things that I love with you  🙂

Until next time, happy listening!!!

 

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Valentine’s Day Music Countdown: Song #12…..And A Sad Anniversary

Before we get to today’s countdown song, let’s take a minute to observe the 56th anniversary of the day the music died. On February 3 1959, a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa claimed the lives of musicians Buddy Holly, J.P. Richardson a/k/a the Big Bopper and Richie Valens.  Holly was 22, Richardson was 28 and Valens was just 17 years old.  They were all part of a three week long American city tour called the Winter Dance Party.

What a lot of people do not know is that country music legend Waylon Jennings, who was a member of Holly’s new band after he parted ways with the Crickets, was supposed to be on the flight but gave up his seat to Richardson because he had the flu.

If you saw the movie based on Valens’ life story, “La Bamba”, you know that Valens won his seat in a coin toss from another of Holly’s band members.  One more member of the tour, Dion Dimucci (of Dion & the Belmonts), decided he could not afford the ticket for the flight so he passed on a seat.

The crash was so devastating to the music industry and fans alike it was dubbed “the day the music died” then and in Don McClean’s song “American Pie” which was released over a decade after the crash.  Ironically, the song was number one in 1972 on the anniversary of the crash.

The musical influence of Holly and Valens never waned, and both were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 and 2001, respectively.  As of 2015, J.P. Richardson has not been elected to the HOF.

For countdown song #12, we visit one of my favorite periods of music ever-the Motown era.  So many of my favorite singers have come from the Motown years:  Marvin Gaye, David Ruffin, Stevie Wonder and Levi Stubbs.  In fact, it is Mr. Stubbs’ group-the  Four Tops-that sang my #12 favorite love song.  “I Believe in You & Me“, written by David Wolfert and Sandy Linzer, was released in 1982.

It is unequivocally one of the highlights of Stubbs’ career, showcasing not only the range of his voice but its passion as well.  His delivery is clear, smooth and so heartfelt it saves the borderline syrupy sentiment of some of the lyrics to ones that are just moving and hopeful.  Even the esteemed Whitney Houston could not deliver her 1996 cover of this song any where close to the beauty of Stubbs’ original.  We lost his voice in 2008, and music in general has never quite sounded the same to me since.

The lyrics refer to love as a miracle, and the older I get and the more I realize how hard true love is to find, I believe romantic love may really be a wonder after all.

Enjoy!!!