Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Richie Valens

Today is the 50th anniversary of the terrible plane crash the claimed the lives of Buddy Holly, J.P Richardson (The Big Bopper) and Richie Valens. Please see this article from CNN.com if you are not familiar with the event. Certainly much has been said and written about this tragedy over the airwaves and in print. I was a little short of my 10th birthday at that time and did not yet follow popular music. I do not remember directly how people reacted 50 years ago. We have heard the cliche "The Day the Music Died." which may have been first said at the time the plane crash but was popularized by the 1971 hit American Pie by Don McClean. Earlier in this decade WCBS-FM played it to death.

Buddy Holly was certainly a major artist at the time of his death at age 22. He with the Crickets had many hits including That'll Be the Day, Peggy Sue, Oh Boy, Rave On and others. People of all ages are familiar with his music. J. P. Richardson only had one hit with Chantilly Lace. Richie Valens had the two sided hit Donna/La Bamba. We never will know what music these three artists would have produced had they lived. Likewise we don't know what other recording artists who died before their time would have done. Their work influenced many other artists in the 1960s. The Beatles and the Hollies would have chosen other names.
I do think that the expression "The Day the Music Died" has been overused over the years. It was even used to described the hijacking of WCBS-FM on June 3, 2005. I hope that rock journalists will stop using it in the future.

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