The Day The Music Died: This Day In Classic Rock [Videos]

As described by Don McLean in his mega-hit American Pie, today in 1959 was “The day the music died” when a Beechcraft Bonanza hired by Buddy Holly crashed near Clear Lake Iowa, killing the 21 year old pilot, Holly, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Henderson, and 17 year old Ritchie Valenz. Buddy had hired the plane because the tour bus they’d been traveling on had a broken heater, and the whole Winter Dance Party package tour was dog-tired, suffering from the flu, smelly, and dirty. None of them had been paid yet, and Holly being the biggest star on it, was the only one with any money. He promised to take everyone’s laundry, and have it done by the time they got to the next show in Moorhead Minnesota. Buddy offered one of the other two seats on the single-engine plane to Dion DiMucci of Dion and the Belmonts who were also on the tour, for cost: $36 (just under $300 in today’s money), who turned it down as too pricey for such a short hop. He’d recently broken up The Crickets, and so gave the other seats to his new lead guitarist Tommy Allsup, who lost his to Valenz on a coin toss, and his bass player Waylon Jennings, who gave up his to the flu-stricken Henderson, leading Buddy to tell him in jest “I hope your old bus freezes up”, to which Jennings had replied “Well I hope your old plane crashes”, a joke that would haunt him until his death in 2002.

Producer Joe Meek, who’d recorded The Tornados Telstar, the first #1 hit in America by a British band, shot himself after killing his landlady today in 1967. Meek was a fan of the occult,  regularly attended seances, and had claimed that at one in 1958 he’d been told that Buddy Holly would be killed in a plane crash on February 3rd, and had tried to meet him and tell him while he was in England.

Elton John had the first of his 5 #1 U.S. singles today in 1973 when Crocodile Rock topped the charts.

The Blues Brothers were at #1 on the U.S. album charts with Briefcase Full of Blues today in 1979. Starting as a sketch on Saturday Night Live in ’76, the band assembled behind John Belushi and Dan Akyroyd included Steve “The Colonel” Cropper and Donald “Duck” Dunn from the Stax Records house band and Booker T. and the M.G.’s, and most of the Saturday Night Live band including keyboard player Paul Shaffer, who did not appear in the Blues Brothers movie because he was out touring with SNL star Gilda Radner.

Seattle’s Pearl Jam played their first show in England tonight in 1992 to 300 people in Southend-On-Sea east of London.

Since we can’t…yet…talk about our Seahawks in terms of “Dynasty” let’s turn to one of the stars of the 80’s TV show Dynasty: The shagadelic Heather Locklear, who filed for divorce from Bon Jovi guitarist Ritchie Sambora today in 2006 after 11 years of marriage. She’d previously been married to Motley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee.

Rock and Roll Birthdays

Dion and the Belmonts singer Angleo D’Aleo is 77, and still glad he wasn’t offered a seat on Buddy Holly’s airplane.

The Hollies bass player Eric Haydock is 75.

The Temptations singer Dennis Edwards is 74.

The Kinks lead guitarist Dave Davies is 70. Dave has mostly recovered from a stroke he suffered in 2004, played his first live solo show in 13 years in England two years ago, and is getting on personally much better with his older brother and Kinks leader Ray, who joined him on stage in London in December 2015. Ray has said that a 50th anniversary reunion show and/or tour is a distinct possibility, though the holdup still seems to be Dave’s relationship with drummer Mick Avory, which back in the 60’s got them banned from playing in America for several years after Mick beaned Dave on-stage with his high-hat stand.





More from Scott Vanderpool

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