03 February 2008

49th Anniversary of "the Day the Music Died"

Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and J.P. Richardson (the Big Bopper) flew into a fatal snowstorm and music history on Feb. 3, 1959. The plane crashed and took with it these three young rock 'n' roll pioneers. Their 1950s music had helped define the landscape of melodies America came to love.

I can't remember if I cried

When I read about his widowed bride

But something touched me deep inside

The day the music died.

-Don McLean, American Pie (1971)

As an artist, Buddy Holly was only with us for 30 months - between 1957 and 1959. But in that short period, Holly's innovation and keen musicianship made him the Mozart of rock music and one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century.

As Philip Norman wrote in his book, Rave On: The Biography of Buddy Holly (1996), "he threw back the boundaries of rock 'n' roll, gave substance to its shivery shadow, transformed it from a chaotic cul-de-sac to a highway of infinite possibility and promise." All this by the age of 22.

The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen and others admit his influence. "His voice," as Norman notes, "is the most imitated, yet inimitable, in rock music."

In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Holly #13 in its list of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

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