1959: In his New York City apartment, Buddy Holly sits alone with an acoustic guitar and records what would be his last songs — “Peggy Sue Got Married,” “Crying, Waiting, Hoping,” “That’s What They Say,” “What to Do,” “Learning the Game” and “That Makes it Tough.”
Less than a week later, Buddy embarked on his final tour. It ended abruptly on February 3rd when the plane crashed, killing all on board and leaving a lasting memory of the day the music died, according to Don McClean’s classic “American Pie”.
American Pie was the name of the plane that crashed killing Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and Jiles Perry Richardson Jr (otherwise known as The Big Bopper). The last concert took place at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. Every year on this date, the venue pays tribute to that fatal day by staging a concert honoring the memory of these three.
I have always been a Buddy Holly fan. He was a brilliant songwriter and the first to produce his own records in a small studio in Lubbock Texas. His work inspired The Beatles, so much that Paul McCartney eventually bought the rights to all of Buddy Holly’s music. He was a true innovator and all he ever wanted to be was “as good as” Elvis Presley. In my humble opinion, he was better than Elvis. It’s hard to say how much more he had to contribute. He died so young and so early in his career. He crossed genres of music from country to rockabilly seamlessly. His songs have been covered by everyone from Blind Faith, The Rolling Stones, Blondie, Elvis Costello, James Taylor, The Lemonheads, Santana, Linda Ronstadt and of course, The Beatles. He was immortalized in a movie called The Buddy Holly Story played, brilliantly, by Gary Busey. The Buddy Holly Story also appeared on Broadway. His legacy lives on.
Richie Valens was a one-hit wonder with La Bamba. He was an inspiration to all Latin artists being the first of his race to succeed in the rock n roll forum. Carlos Santana has credited Valens for inspiring him to record. You may remember a movie about Valens called “La Bamba” starring Lou Diamond Phillips. Not one of the better biopics, but then again most biopics are god awful (IMHO).
Big Bopper had that booming voice you heard on his hit “Chantilly Lace”. There has yet to be a movie about JP. He was a DJ and this was his only hit. Apparently, at the time of this tragic event, Chantilly Lace was the biggest song out at the time and many in attendance were there to see Big Bopper. I listen to a lot of doo-wop and 50’s music today and it brings me back to an innocent time that I was never a part of. Music has a way of only showing us the good times. The 50’s were probably one of the most socially repressive eras in American History, but the music was fresh and exciting. Gotta love that devil music.
So, bye bye Miss American Pie. Bye Bye Buddy, Richie and Big Bopper. You will always be remembered for paving the way for some of the greatest music to ever hit my ears.