Friday, February 25, 2005

The Day the Music Died

Word comes from Universal's Geffen record label that an ambitious retrospective CD and DVD collection dedicated to Buddy Holly & the Crickets is coming in April. Although Holly died on February 3, 1959, his music remains a joy for long-time listeners and those lucky enough to discover it today.

Although Elvis Presley is often heralded as rock 'n' roll's first star, songwriters and musicians often credit Holly as the father of the modern school of original rock. My view; Lennon and McCartney (and the rest of the Fab Four) owed more to Holly than Presley, Little Richard and Chuck Berry combined.

I have been to Clear Lake, Iowa twice; both times I made the trip to visit the site where Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper (Jiles Perry Richardson) died in a tragic plane crash on a cold winter night after performing at the Surf Ballroom. Walking through the tall fields of corn for the 1/2 mile or so to the fan-created memorial to the rockers is a trip back in time, and the long walk through the rural ghost of America's heartland is a time to reflect on the birth of rock - what it meant in those early days and its disputed role in the world today.

With Holly, the music, the songs, the style - they all had meaning. The connection between the man, his music and his audience mattered. Today, it's all part of some business plan. It's about opening week sales and the Billboard 200. About MTV. About radio station adds.

Walking through the cornfield to the place where a small plane went down on a cold winter morning long ago was truly a glimpse back at the day the music died.

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