The Day the Music Died: Buddy Holly
On a Monday night, February 2nd, 1959 Charles Hardin Holley appeared live in public for the final time at a Rock N Roll show in Clear Lake, Iowa.
It was cold outside, below freezing and windy and in those early pioneer days of music, the performers didn't have the luxurious traveling accommodations we associate with 'rock stars' today. Holley was from Lubbock, Texas and although that's 'North Texas' it still doesn't get as cold as Iowa in the winter. By the way, that's the state of Iowa and not the town near Jennings.
So Buddy was on this long winter tour travelling on a type of bus, akin to modern school buses - hard seats, windows and no heater for miles and miles and hours and hours on the road, with other singer, songwriters and musicians including another famous Texan from Sabine Pass and later Beaumont: Jape Richardson also known as 'The Big Bopper'. Waylon Jennings, a young guitarist was along as well plus a kid from California with a hit song called "Oh Donna" Richard Valenzuela or 'Richie Valens".
You can imagine, Texans and a Southern Californians reaction to days of freezing cold weather, they were all suffering from various degrees of sickness from colds and coughs to full-blown fever-fueled flu.
Buddy, by far the most successful at that time having been a songwriter and explorative musician for all of his teen years decided to hell with the freezing bus, he wanted to charter a private plane to fly him to the next destination so that he could arrive early, get to a hotel and get under a blanket for a good ten or twelve hour sleep.
There were three other seats available on the Beechcraft, Valens and Jennings flipped a coin to see who got to fly and who got to ride the frosty bus to the next gig. They took off a little after midnight and flew away into the dark icy skies. You know what happened next.
The Beatles Were A Crickets Cover Band
I have been in long drawn out arguments with close friends over the idea that if Buddy Holley (his family name was spelled with an 'e', a record label mistake is why we often see it without) had not died, the world would have never heard of The Beatles. Pick your jaw up off the floor and I'll give you my reasons.
The Quarrymen of Liverpool were big Holly fans, bought every record and wore it out listening to it. Buddy's band was called "The Crickets" they copied that and re-named themselves The Beatles, utilizing the close connection of the bug and spelling the 'beet' part 'Beat' well, because they were musicians.
In an age where even rock n rollers were often back by orchestras, or large 'combos' the Beatles copied the basic 4 man lineup - lead guitarist, bass guitarist, rhythm guitar and drummer, of The Crickets.
Also, there's hardly a musical difference in songs like Not Fade Away, That'll Be the Day (cool John Wayne movie story is connected to that one) and She Loves You and Hard Days Night... there are other comparisons as well that's just a sampling.
Now, before you freak, I'm not taking anything away from The Beatles, just putting it out there that they owe a lot of their early successes to the sound Buddy Holly invented. I'm just contending that The Beatles took a lot from Buddy Holly and the Crickets, and expanded on it - and most of what followed, the Rolling Stones to Cream and all the rest, what we now know as classic rock. And had he lived, they wouldn't have made themselves into worldwide entertainers, we'd have already had all of that sound we needed.
Look up Buddy Holly, see the extensive catalog of songs he wrote and recorded in his uber short lifespan. Imagine Buddy Holly during the 1960's becoming more innovative, continually evolving musically - headlining at the Monterrey Pop Festival, Woodstock and so on.
Many have said that when Buddy's plane crashed that freezing night (young pilot basically didn't know how to fly in the dark, let alone with ice on the wings) that was the night 'the music died' because no one else held all the genius he did.
Youthful death is always sad - and we always think about what may have been.
Where is this going? I just want to stop and take a minute, because his songs rarely if ever get played on the radio anymore - and pay Respectful Tribute to Buddy Holly and his friends in his band The Crickets.
If you haven't figured it out yet, Buddy Holly is one of my heroes. Here's one of the last songs he recorded, True Love Ways, Buddy wrote it for his pregnant wife Maria Elena.
He didn't live long enough to hold the baby.