Saturday, February 2, 2008

It's Raining in My Heart

The music has been dead for 49 years now: It was on this very night, back in 1959 (the flight took off at 1:00 a.m. on February 3rd), that the plane bearing Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper - plus pilot Roger Peterson - went down in Clear Lake, Iowa, shortly after taking off in a snowstorm. (Bob Dylan had been at the tour's show in Duluth three nights earlier, on January 31.) Waylon Jennings had gotten off the plane just before takeoff, giving his seat to Valens; Dion was also on the tour, but decided not to fly that night.

Everyone would agree that John Lennon died far too young, right? If you add together the ages of Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens, the two Rock & Roll Hall of Famers on that ill-fated flight (although Valens got in on sort of the Ross Youngs plan), they still don't add up to John Lennon's lifetime.

Buddy Holly, coming from Nowhere, Texas, sure accomplished a lot in his short life, didn't he? When he was only 18, he opened a show for Elvis in his hometown of Lubbock, then played on a bill with Bill Haley and His Comets, whereupon he was discovered by Marty Robbins' manager, who arranged for Holly to sign a recording contract at the age of 19. "That'll Be the Day" went to Number One on Billboard's Best Sellers chart two weeks after he turned 21. He toured England at the age of 21, then came back home to marry his soon-to-be-widowed bride. When he was 22, he split up with the Crickets and went solo.

Then, at 22 years, four months and 28 days of age, he was dead.


Anonymous said...

My Dad died 22 years ago today, but not in a crash. It's a bad day for us all.

T. Nawrocki said...

Very sorry to hear that. You have the condolences of all of us here at OPC.

Anonymous said...

Much appreciated. (He was anonymous, too, so I could never tell exactly who he was.)

Mark Lerner said...

Actually, it was guitarist Tommy Allsup who lost the coin toss to Ritchie Valens for the final seat on the tragic flight. Waylon gave his seat to the Big Bopper, who had the flu and really didn't want to be on the bus.

I had the pleasure of seeing Tommy Allsup and a bunch of old guys this past summer, touring as Bob Wills's Texas Playboys, with Leon Rausch singing. He threw in a few Buddy Holly numbers.

These guys with pants way up over their bellies were the rockingest thing I've seen in a long time. Do not miss them if they come to your town. Just don't make any coin-toss wagers with Allsup.

Big Bopper said...

Earl Butz, on the other hand, lived to be 98.

love the Richie Valens = Ross Youngs analogy. Little Willie John = Tony Conigliaro?

Anonymous said...

I for one didn't see the Earl Butz reference coming.

T. Nawrocki said...

Who ever sees Earl Butz coming?

Thanks for the correction, Mark. I got that from Wikipedia; I should probably asterisk anything I get from Wikipedia, so you guys know there is a sold chance that the information is false.

The great thing about Tony C. is that he wore "Tony C." on the back of his uniform. Did Little Willie John wear "Little Willie J." on his prison stripes?

Anonymous said...

One assumes Mrs. Butz did. (You're welcome!)