The Day The Music Died

Today is the 50th anniversary of The Day The Music Died.  On 3 February 1959, in a field outside Clear Lake, Iowa, a small plane carrying Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, crashed and killed everyone on board, including pilot Richard Peterson.  As we all know, Waylon Jennings gave up his seat on the ill-fated plane and lived to sing his own songs another day.

Bye bye Miss American Pie,
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
Singing “This’ll be the day that I die,
This’ll be the day that I die.”
Don McLean, PlayAmerican Pie

Minneapolis Star-Tribune Columnist & Twitterer James @Lileks doesn’t think the music died that day.  He thinks the music is doing just fine, blaming McLean’s American Pie for getting it all wrong.  Take a look at an annotated explanation of the cryptic lyrics here.

I’m more inclined to agree with AcktheHack that the music did die a little that day—I wonder how enthralled I would have been with this new-fangled Rock & Roll if I had been a generation earlier.  To wit The American Spectator: “Who, in the early sixties at least, cared to patronize the recordings of sex perverts whose 45s probably received radio spins through bribery?”  I liked La Bamba yet I’m thinking if I was contemporary to the events depicted, probably not so much.  Really more a Hank Williams fan.

The STrib re-visits Clear Lake’s Surf Ballroom and the crash site, video here.  Also on the playbill last night: Bobby Vee, Graham Nash, Los Lobos, Delbert McClinton, Joe Ely and Wanda Jackson.

I could have made the drive, it’s only 182 miles out my front door. Still, I try to stick closer to home come winter time.  Never know when your vehicle might freeze up & get stuck…


(cross-posted & slightly edited from )