Rock Moment: The Day The Music Died
Repost: Published in 2009, still of interest today.
To this day, people still mourn the musical talent who died in a plane crash in the early morning hours of Feb. 3, 1959. A small airplane, carrying rock stars Buddy Holly, J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson and Ritchie Valens, crashed only minutes after taking off from Mason City, Iowa, in a snowstorm.
The three had just played the “Winter Dance Party” and were heading to the next stop in Fargo, North Dakota. Richardson was 28, Valens was 17, and Holly was only 22 years old. Richardson, from Beaumont, Texas, was already a proven commodity with not only his own hits, but songs he wrote – “Running Bear” for Johnny Preston and “White Lightning” for George Jones – becoming hits as well. Valens influenced such later acts as Los Lobos and Los Lonely Boys and was the subject of a 1987 hit movie.
But perhaps the greatest loss was Buddy Holly – he was certainly one of the most original musicians ever, and a monumental talent in rock and roll. In only two short years he had grown powerful enough to control everything he wrote and recorded and at the time of his death he was planning to produce music for other artists as well as his own. Holly was the iconic rocker, the first to perform as the leader of his own band and the first to employ the now-standard singer/guitarist/bassist/drummer lineup.
If he had lived, perhaps Holly would have faded away or would have deteriorated like Elvis into a paunchy embarrassment playing Vegas casinos. But I don’t think so. You see what Buddy Holly could have been when you look at great artists who have survived and thrived over decades – artists with great integrity like Bob Dylan, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen.
Even though he had a relatively short musical career, and even though he was only 22 years old at the time of his death, and more than 50 years after his plane nosedived into a snowy Iowa cornfield, Buddy Holly remains one of the most important artists ever in rock and roll.
YouTube: Buddy Holly & the Crickets performing “Peggy Sue” in 1957
YouTube: “American Pie” by Don McLean
YouTube: “Rock Around With Ollie Vee” from The Buddy Holly Story biopic