Tuesday, 3 February 2009

The day the music died

50 years ago today, 3 February 1959, was the day the music died. I was alerted to the significance of today's date via this blog post. Put aside the drunken karaoke warblings of Don McLean's American Pie; this was the real event.

I was at just the right age when La Bamba (1987) was a big hit. I knew little of Ritchie Valens at the time, but Mum liked The Big Bopper and Dad was a Buddy Holly fan. Mum was also a big Dion fan (my brother is a living reminder of that). Watching the movie repeatedly over the next few years contributed to some of the musical history I was steadily acquiring. I guess the reason why many people could relate to the Ritchie Valens story was because he was living the life so many envied (a superstar at age 17) while still being a regular nice guy.

Buddy Holly's influence on music as we know it was phenomenal for someone so young (he died aged 22). Perhaps this was a contributing factor; the world loves a tragedy. Where some of his playing and singing lacked polish and finesse, it reeked of promising songwriting talent. Maybe it's less of the music itself that catapulted Holly into rock and roll history, but equally due to what his music represented at the time: a fresh, promising new sound (without being over rebellious), along with its accompanying image. This was unheard of in the late 1950s; nothing quite like Holly had come along before. Hank Marvin (The Shadows) played candy apple red Fender Stratocasters because Buddy Holly did, and a whole generation of guitarists followed suit (my father included).

Has the music ever really died? It hasn't for me, and I hope it never will. There are endless interpretations of what this phrase means for people, just as there are different understandings of what actually happened on that day. Regardless, today marks the anniversary of a signifant day in musical history. I'm off to play my Buddy Holly CD now.

Image used without permission. Source: http://www.stuff.co.nz/blog/wp-content/uploads/x-poster-375-x-489.jpg

1 comment:

Kelly said...

Some of my happiest memories from childhood are dancing around the dining room to mum's Richie Valens record of La Bamba.