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"The Day THe Music Died.", Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, Big Bopper killed in plane crash

“THE DAY THE MUSIC DIED”, FEB. 3, 1959 & American Pie Song


By Alan Chrisman, copyright. 

This day has been dubbed “the day the music died” because on this day, three top 50’s rock ‘n’ roll acts, Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and “The Big Bopper” died in a plane crash  after a show near Clear Lake, Iowa.

This sad event was later immortalized in the song, “American Pie” by Don Mclean in 197I.  Buddy Holly was one of the most influential artists in rock.  He defined the rock band line-up with guitars, bass, and drums with his back-up band, The Crickets.  Some say The Beatles even created their name, partly, in reverence to him.  He wrote his own songs and many believe he was just starting to expand his and music’s directions when he was killed at only 22.  Already, he was experimenting with strings and different sounds and new recording techniques.  And his music was, like Elvis, appealed to both black and white audiences. He had several big hits, both rockers and ballads. ”That’ll be the Day”, Peggy Sue”, Maybe Baby”, “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore”, and many more.  The Beatles covered his, “Words Of Love” and The Stones did his “ Not Fade Away.”

Richie Valens, was a Latin–American artist who helped open the doors for that ethnic group in mainstream  pop music, with his hits, La Bamba” and ‘Donna” and he was but 17. “The Big Bopper”, J.P. Richardson, was a former D.J. who had had a big hit with “Chantilly Lace.” So it was a sad day indeed, when rock ’n’ roll lost these three irreplaceable talents. Waylon Jennings , later well-known ‘outlaw’ country singer/ songwriter with Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash, was a bassist in Holly’s band at the time and famously gave up his seat on that fated plane ride.  I was fortunate to see the surviving Crickets and Waylon Jennings at a Chicago Blues Fest.  Don Mclean’s epic song, “American Pie” perfectly captured in words and music, just how powerful their loss would be, and in fact, the future of rock, better than anybody at the time. They are so good, I’ve reprinted them here:

“American Pie “, Don McLean’s classic song about “The Day The Music Died.”

“American Pie”  lyrics below by Don McLean:

A long long time ago

I can still remember how
That music used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance

That I could make those people dance
And maybe they’d be happy for a while

But February made me shiver
With every paper I’d deliver
Bad news on the doorstep
I couldn’t take one more step

I can’t remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride
Something touched me deep inside
The day the music died

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
Singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die

Did you write the book of love
And do you have faith in God above
If the Bible tells you so?
Do you believe in rock and roll?
Can music save your mortal soul?
And can you teach me how to dance real slow?

Well, I know that you’re in love with him
‘Cause I saw you dancin’ in the gym
You both kicked off your shoes
Man, I dig those rhythm and blues

I was a lonely teenage broncin’ buck
With a pink carnation and a pickup truck
But I knew I was out of luck
The day the music died
I started singin’

Now, for ten years we’ve been on our own
And moss grows fat on a rolling stone
But, that’s not how it used to be

When the jester sang for the king and queen
In a coat he borrowed from James Dean
And a voice that came from you and me

Oh and while the king was looking down
The jester stole his thorny crown
The courtroom was adjourned
No verdict was returned

And while Lenin read a book on Marx
The quartet practiced in the park
And we sang dirges in the dark
The day the music died

Helter skelter in a summer swelter
The birds flew off with a fallout shelter
Eight miles high and falling fast

It landed foul on the grass
The players tried for a forward pass
With the jester on the sidelines in a cast

Now the half-time air was sweet perfume
While sergeants played a marching tune
We all got up to dance
Oh, but we never got the chance

‘Cause the players tried to take the field
The marching band refused to yield
Do you recall what was revealed
The day the music died?
We started singin’

Oh, and there we were all in one place
A generation lost in space
With no time left to start again

So come on Jack be nimble, Jack be quick
Jack Flash sat on a candlestick
‘Cause fire is the devil’s only friend

Oh and as I watched him on the stage
My hands were clenched in fists of rage
No angel born in Hell
Could break that Satan’s spell

And as the flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite
I saw Satan laughing with delight
The day the music died
He was singin’

I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away

I went down to the sacred store
Where I’d heard the music years before
But the man there said the music wouldn’t play

And in the streets the children screamed
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed
But not a word was spoken
The church bells all were broken

And the three men I admire most
The Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost
They caught the last train for the coast
The day the music died
And they were singing

Songwriters: MCLEAN, DON, 1971

American Pie lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group


Below: Video Story: “The Day the Music Died”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppKIfnUu0-U&list=RDppKIfnUu0-U&start_radio=1&t=64



Don McLean’s video for “American Pie”: