Tuesday, February 3, 2009


This week is the 50th anniversary of the fateful day often referred to as "The Day The Music Died" (a reference to the lyric in Don McLean's "American Pie").

On February 3, 1959, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper died in a small plane crash (along with the pilot, Roger Peterson).

I became a fan of Buddy Holly when my mom took me to see The Buddy Holly Story on Broadway, I think I was in college at the time. I don't remember if the show itself was great, but I was struck by how many of Buddy Holly's songs I already knew, and also by just how incredible his songs were. You can sort of take someone like him for granted: his songs are part of the culture, it may not be apparent that you need to have some of his records in your collection. "That'll Be The Day," "Rave On," "Everyday," "Words Of Love," "Maybe Baby," "Not Fade Away," the guy just had so many incredible songs, he was only 22 when he died! Do yourself a favor if you haven't already: pick up The Buddy Holly Collection, or just Buddy Holly.

I'm not as familiar with Richie Valens, but "La Bamba" is obviously a classic and so is "Donna" and "Come On, Let's Go." I think he was 17 when he died! So he didn't have a vast catalog, but anyone who was there at the beginning of rock and roll... it's not about the amount of classic songs, it's about the impact of the songs that they had, and Valens' had a big impact.

I think that The Big Bopper was more of a novelty act, but that's cool: "Chantilly Lace" was a classic.

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