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Author: Subject: The Day The Music Died - 50 Years Ago Feb. 2

Zen Peach





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  posted on 1/28/2009 at 09:07 AM
http://ap.augustachronicle.com/pstories/entertainment/20090128/382424124.sh tml

Rock fans head to Iowa to recall day music died

CLEAR LAKE, Iowa — It's been 50 years since a single-engine plane crashed into a snow-covered Iowa field, instantly killing three men whose names would become enshrined in the history of rock 'n' roll.



Jeff Nicholas looks at a monument he set up near the spot where the plane carrying Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson crashed killing all aboard, Friday, Jan. 9, 2009, near Clear Lake, Iowa. It's been nearly 50 years since the single-engine plane crashed into a snow-covered Iowa field and later this month thousands of people are expected to gather in the small northern Iowa town where the rock pioneers gave their last performance. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

The passing decades haven't diminished fascination with that night on Feb. 2, 1959, when 22-year-old Buddy Holly, 28-year-old J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson and 17-year-old Ritchie Valens performed in Clear Lake and then boarded the plane for a planned 300-mile flight that lasted only minutes.

"It was really like the first rock 'n' roll landmark; the first death," said rock historian Jim Dawson, who has written several books about music of that era. "They say these things come in threes. Well, all three happened at the same time."

Starting Wednesday, thousands of people are expected to gather in the small northern Iowa town where the rock pioneers gave their last performance. They'll come to the Surf Ballroom for symposiums with the three musicians' relatives, sold-out concerts and a ceremony as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame designates the building as its ninth national landmark.



Shown is the dance floor in the Surf Ballroom, Friday, Jan. 9, 2009, in Clear Lake, Iowa. It's been nearly 50 years since the single-engine plane crashed into a snow-covered Iowa field killing Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson. Later this month thousands of people are expected to gather in the small northern Iowa town where the rock pioneers gave their last performance. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

And they'll discuss why after so many years, so many people still care about what songwriter Don McLean so famously called "the day the music died."

"It was the locus point for that last performance by these great artists," said Terry Stewart, president and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. "It warrants being fixed in time."

Clear Lake is an unlikely spot for a rock 'n' roll pilgrimage — especially in winter. The resort town of about 8,000 borders its namesake lake, and on winter days the cold and wind make the community 100 miles north of Des Moines anything but a tourist destination.

The crash site is on private property, a five-mile drive from Clear Lake and half-mile walk off the road. Corn grows high in adjacent fields during the summer, but in winter the fields are covered with snow and a path to the small memorial is often thick with ice. The memorial features a small cross and thin metal guitar and records, all of which are draped in flowers during the summer.



A poster of Buddy Holly hangs in the entrance of the Surf Ballrom, Friday, Jan. 9, 2009, in Clear Lake, Iowa. It's been nearly 50 years since the single-engine plane crashed into a snow-covered Iowa field killing Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson. Later this month thousands of people are expected to gather in the small northern Iowa town where the rock pioneers gave their last performance. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

"It's a much nicer trip in the summer," said Jeff Nicholas, a longtime Clear Lake resident who heads the Surf Ballroom's board of directors. "But in the winter, you get more of a feel of what it was like."

No one tracks the number of visitors, but fans stop by throughout the year and on some summer days visitors to the crash site can create the oddity of a corn field traffic jam.

Stewart said the deaths still resonate because they occurred at a time when rock 'n' roll was going through a transition, of sorts. The sound of Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and Holly was making way for the British Invasion of the mid-1960s.

"The music was shifting and changing at that point," he said. "The crash put a punctuation point on the change."



A Don McLean autographed copy of the lyrics for the song "American Pie" are seen on a wall in the green room at the Surf Ballrom, Friday, Jan. 9, 2009, in Clear Lake, Iowa. It's been nearly 50 years since the single-engine plane crashed into a snow-covered Iowa field killing Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson. Later this month thousands of people are expected to gather in the small northern Iowa town where the rock pioneers gave their last performance. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

All three musicians influenced rock and roll in their own way.

Holly's career was short, but his hiccup-vocal style, guitar play and songwriting talents had tremendous influence on later performers. The Beatles, who formed about the time of the crash, were among his early fans and fashioned their name after Holly's band, The Crickets. Holly's hit songs include "That'll Be The Day," "Peggy Sue" and "Maybe Baby."

Richardson, "The Big Bopper," is often credited with creating the first music video with his recorded performance of "Chantilly Lace" in 1958, decades before MTV.

And Valens was one of the first musicians to apply a Mexican influence to rock 'n' roll. He recorded his huge hit "La Bamba" only months before the accident.



Flowers adorn a memorial, Friday, Jan. 9, 2009, at the spot where the plane carrying Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson crashed killing all aboard, Feb. 3, 1959, near Clear Lake, Iowa. It's been nearly 50 years since the single-engine plane crashed into a snow-covered Iowa field and later this month thousands of people are expected to gather in the small northern Iowa town where the rock pioneers gave their last performance. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

The plane left the airport in nearby Mason City about 1 a.m., headed for Moorhead, Minn., with the musicians looking for a break from a tiring, cold bus trip through the Upper Midwest.

It wasn't until hours later that the demolished plane was found, crumpled against a wire fence. Investigators believe the pilot, who also died, became confused amid the dark, snowy conditions and rammed the plane into the ground.

The crash set off a wave of mourning among their passionate, mostly young fans across the country. Then 12 years later the crash was immortalized as "the day the music died" in McLean's 1971 song, "American Pie."

Vonnie Amosson, who manages the Veterans of Foreign Wars hall in Clear Lake, said that ever since the plane crash, the community has embraced the tragedy. It's a continues stream of tourism dollars, and the town's chamber of commerce estimates that this year's events, dubbed "50s in February," will generate more than $4 million for Clear Lake's economy.



A poster showing Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson hangs on a wall in the Surf Ballrom, Friday, Jan. 9, 2009, in Clear Lake, Iowa. It's been nearly 50 years since the single-engine plane crashed into a snow-covered Iowa field killing everyone on board and later this month thousands of people are expected to gather in the small northern Iowa town where the rock pioneers gave their last performance. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

"It's kind of sad that that is what we are known for," Amosson said. "But on the other part of it, I think the whole '50's in February' weekend is a huge memorial and it's an honor to them."

In part because of its role in rock history, the Surf Ballroom has retained its vintage look, with a 6,000-square-foot dance floor, ceiling painted to resemble a sky, and original cloud machines on either side of the room. Ten Buddy Holly banners line the wall opposite the stage. The 2,100-capacity ballroom still hosts many national and regional performers, most of whom add their names to a backstage wall that is now crowded with drawings and signatures.

"It's quite a special place," said Nicholas, the Surf board member. "This place looks just like it did in 1959."

 

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Peach Pro



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  posted on 1/28/2009 at 09:30 AM
Thanks for posting this, Dave, excellent article. I have been a Buddy Holly fan for a long time, since seeing the Gary Busey film back in the 70s. Buddy was something else. The Original Crickets Sonny Curtis, Joe B Maudlin and Jerry Allison still tour, they play the venue I work security at. All very nice, was able to get some good info and stories about Buddy. I think Buddys music still holds up today, catchy tunes with nice hooks. Buddy played England in 57 or 58 and was a big influence on the British Invasion of the 60s, as many of the performers saw him play when they were teenagers.
 

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  posted on 1/28/2009 at 09:34 AM
Thanks for the tribute, Dave. Been to the Surf many times - about 60 miles from where I live. Great place to go and check out the Wall of Fame and see a show. The backstage room walls have signatures from almost everyone who has played there.

 

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  posted on 1/28/2009 at 09:35 AM
quote:
Thanks for the tribute, Dave. Been to the Surf many times - about 60 miles from where I live. Great place to go and check out the Wall of Fame and see a show. Love the pic of the backstage room walls have signatures from almost everyone who has played there. Looked at the names with -=DDT=- one time.



There is also a statue monument outside in memory of the 3.

 

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  posted on 1/28/2009 at 10:03 AM
The Buddy Holly Story was a GREAT movie.

 

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  posted on 1/28/2009 at 10:09 AM
Rolling Stone has a feature article on Buddy Holly this week with a very romantic story told by his wife.

 

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  posted on 1/28/2009 at 10:17 AM
That is a nice story in Rolling Stone about Buddy and the days leading up to the crash.

 

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  posted on 1/28/2009 at 11:12 AM
I've always loved Buddy Holly (and Richie Valens, for that matter). The Beatles always indicated that they took a lot of inspiration from him and I believe I read somewhere that the bands name may have also been influenced by Crickets name. Seems I've also read that Paul McCartney at one time held rights to Buddy's music catalog - don't know if that's still the case. Every time I hear an artist cover Not Fade Away I think of Buddy and his amazing contribution to music. He was a pioneer.

There has been a lot of coverage in local news lately on this and sounds like they are going to mark the 50th anniversary of the Winter Dance Party in style. Graham Nash, the Crickets, Los Lobos and a house band featuring Chuck Leavell and Bobby Keys are going to be on hand for the celebration. The Surf lives on...

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2009901250303

http://data.desmoinesregister.com/holly/index.php

[Edited on 1/28/2009 by lolasdeb]

 

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  posted on 1/28/2009 at 12:21 PM
A lot of what Buddy is remembered for is he was one of the pioneers of "overdubbing," or multi-tracking. If I recall correctly, Pat Dinizio of The Smithereens bought an old reel to reel tape recorder that Buddy owned and recorded demos on. Buddy was a great performer and songwriter, but he was a pioneer in the studio as well.

 

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  posted on 1/28/2009 at 12:54 PM
Great post, Dave!

Buddy Holly was probably my first R'n'R "hero".
I remember when my parents first bought a Hi-Fi radio/record player (stereo hadn't come out yet).
I "took it over", and drove them crazy, playing "Peggy Sue" over and over and over...
I think my favorite BH song back then was "Oh Boy".
I was only 11 years old when he died.

quote:
Every time I hear an artist cover Not Fade Away I think of Buddy and his amazing contribution to music.


One of my favorite Dead covers!
One memorable New Years Eve show, the audience decided to "play the band". At the entrances, people were handing out small handbills, asking for us to start up the "NFA" clap/chant when the boys took the stage. The band picked it up, and went into a rare NFA opener. They went back into it at the end of the show, making the show one big "NFA" "sandwich".

You know how hard it is to have a crowd that size clap and chant in unison?
I think that Buddy was smiling down on us that night!

Here is the end of that show:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgEygiieBwg&feature=related

 

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  posted on 2/2/2009 at 04:56 PM
"Not Fade Away"!



'The day the music died'? Hardly

http://www.cnn.com/2009/SHOWBIZ/Music/02/02/day.music.died/index.html

 

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  posted on 2/2/2009 at 05:01 PM
Tonight's show for the 50th Tribute at the Surf...

MONDAY, February 2nd, 2009*

Time: 6:00pm - close
Location: Surf Ballroom Lounge Stage
Event Description: Tom Fontaine's Rock and Roll Investments will present a special tribute collection exhibit featuring personal items, contracts, lyrics, autographs, etc. belonging to Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper Richardson.” Bonus items from The Beatles (celebrating the 45th Anniversary of first arrival in the US), Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison etc. will also be on display during this time. Event open to ticketed 50 Winters Later concert-goers only.

CONCERT: 50 Winters Later Commemorative Concert
Artists Scheduled to Appear:
Tommy Allsup
Big Bopper JR
The Crickets
Pat DiNizio of the Smithereens
Joe Ely
Wanda Jackson
Los Lobos
Los Lonely Boys
Delbert McClinton
Chris Montez
Cousin Brucie Morrow
Graham Nash
Peter & Gordon
Sir Tim Rice
Bobby Vee
and special guests TBA
House Band:
Kenny Aronoff
Chuck Leavell
Bobby Keys
Hutch Hutchinson
Doors Open: 6:00pm
Concert: 7:00pm
Location: Surf Ballroom
Tickets: SOLD OUT

 

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  posted on 2/2/2009 at 05:05 PM
BigDave....thanks for sharing. Cool info.

 

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  posted on 2/2/2009 at 05:09 PM
This is very creepy! http://www.aberdeen-music.com/forums/musicians-corner/43744-musician-buried -48-years-ago-dug-up-his-casket-now-sale-e-bay.html
 

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  posted on 2/2/2009 at 07:28 PM
John Goldrosen is the president of my local running club. I found out after knowing him for a while that he wrote the "The Buddy Holly Story," the book that the movie was based on.

Last year we both caught the Winter Dance Party tribute with John Mueller and Jay Richardson, Jr (I can't remember the name of the guy who played Ritchie Valens, but he's in Sha na na, and he's very good too.) It's a great show, and well worth seeing for any fan of this music.

 

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  posted on 2/3/2009 at 02:23 AM
Very cool. Being that I'm a little younger than most here I think, it wasn't until I saw Labamba in 1988 that I got the Ritchie/Buddy/Bopper fever. The tragedy of the story has always touched a chord deep in my soul, and even though I'm at least 3 decades removed, I celebrate it every year......
 
 


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