On this date in 1959 the great Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper were killed in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa. In Don McLean’s classic “American Pie” [the album of the same name was dedicated to Buddy Holly} he called February 3, 1959 ‘the day the music died.”
In the late 1970’s I was introduced to Buddy Holly’s music and ended up buying a box set of albums with nearly everything he ever recorded. I had gotten into music at the age of sixteen with The Beatles being my gateway drug. As I bought every Beatles album over the course of months I also started buying books on The Beatles and reading that Buddy Holly was one of their main inspirations and musical heroes made me search out his music. The Beatles were spot on- his music was great and nearly forty years later he remains one of my favorite musicians. What I continue to shake me head over is- when Holly was tragically killed he was only twenty-two years old. If he had lived but retired from music his place in rock and roll history would still have been secure. How did this young man write so many great songs? I also have to wonder- had he lived what more would he have accomplished? What a great loss.
In 1986 Holly was in the inaugural class of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He is one of the most influential artists in rock and roll history. In addition to The Beatles he influenced a who’s who of the greats- The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, the first album Eric Clapton bought was a Buddy Holly album, Elton John, even The Clash listed Buddy as an influence. An endless list. As Keith Richards has said ” Holly passed it on via The Beatles and The Rolling Stones…he’s in everybody.” Bruce Springsteen back in 1978 said “I play Buddy Holly every night before I go on. It keeps me honest.”