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Sunday, February 3, 2019

60 years ago today: "The Day the Music Died." Sun, Feb 3 edition, 2019

February 3rd is must-know date for all who love music. (And no, we are not changing-over to a ruminating-about-the-past site, or a place where you go for all the anniversaries.)

This weekend's annual FREE MUSEUM DAY concludes today, Sunday -- it's fully covered in our Friday edition, AND a month ago in the Guide's "Events" edition.

Here's today's content...

On February 3, 1959, 60 years ago today, Rock and Roll musicians BUDDY HOLLY, RITCHIE VALENS, and J. P. "THE BIG BOPPER" RICHARDSON (left to right in the photo montage) were killed in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa after playing a gig on a whirlwind tour.

The news media of the time, seeing rockers as an aberrant counter-culture flash-in-the-pan youth craze, gave little notice to the deaths of these early giants of the genre.

That would wait until the early 1970s, when singer-songwriter DON McLEAN would sweep the charts with his acoustic guitar and vocal hit, "American Pie." But it was always a larger hit for what it wasn't about -- the masses interpreted the song as being about the collapse of everything good because of the Kennedy assassination and the Vietnam War. 

College classes would even be taught about McLean's lyrical composition -- the symbology and sweeping cultural significance of the song and how it spoke for a generation.

In fact, McLean wrote the song about his 
  dead musical hero, Buddy Holly, and, in 
     the lyrics of the song, "The day the 
        music died" was Feb. 3rd when the 
        plane crashed -- not Nov. 22nd, when 
        the era of assassinations began.

       Fast forward years later, when some
     exploitive jerk in Hollywood sought
    success by deceiving fans steeped in the
  song, and titled his lame ripoff movie "American
 Pie" -- dumb celluloid pablum that didn't use the song at all.

For a GOOD movie, go find "LA BAMBA," the 1987 biopic about RITCHIE VALENS, the East L.A. Chicano musical prodigy who died with Buddy Holly. It stars Lou Diamond Phillips as Valens, and has fine performances by Esai Morales, Rosanna DeSoto, Elizabeth Peña, Danielle von Zerneck, and Joe Pantoliano. The movie shows how Ritchie had to accept his stage-name change from being the real Ritchie Valenzuela to musician "Valens" to be "acceptable" for national exposure to the American audience of the time.

The "La Bamba" soundtrack album featured music 
icons. It's a tough find today, and worth searching.


☆ "AMERICAN PIE" -- the DON McLEAN hit record from the early 70s. The entire song is here, meaningfully narrated by the lyrics (the radio version was, and is, idiotically chopped short, so you may never have heard the full lyrics to really "get" the song): 

☆ BUDDY HOLLY began as a bluegrasser, and developed a revolutionary style after seeing Elvis perform. His catalog was brief, but there's a lot in it. We chose the original recording of "That'll Be the Day," which became a hit for Linda Ronstadt a decade-and-a-half later:


☆ RITCHIE VALENS guitar instrumental, "Sleepwalk":

RITCHIE VALENS album was released a month after his death in 1959. Where might he have taken the L.A.-based Chicano rock scene -- and its global status -- years before Los Lobos?


☆ "THE BIG BOPPER" on a 1958 edition of "The Dick Clark Show" does his original "Hellooo Baby!" musical telephone intro for, then sings, "Chantilly Lace": 

☆ "THE DAY THE MUSIC DIED: BUDDY HOLLY, RITCHIE VALENS AND THE BIG BOPPER" is the 6 min 30 sec "Watch Mojo" documentary with 3,587,389 views: 

Now then -- what's this "breaking news" story that Don McLean sort-of told the Des Moines Register this morning that the song isn't really about Buddy Holly?

You judge. Here's what he said:

"The song is not about Buddy Holly," he said. "It’s about America."

“Buddy Holly’s death is what I used to try to write the biggest possible song I could write about America. And not a ‘This Land Is Your Land’ or 'America, the Beautiful' or something like that. I wanted to write a song that was completely brand new in its perspective.”

We're comfortable with that. And with going with what he always said before this morning. After all, he's now a 77-year-old artist, still out on the circuit, looking for ink to create buzz that puts butts in seats at gigs. Like the gig below that you can go see...

DON McLEAN PLAYS THE SABAN THEATRE in Beverly Hills on Sat, Mar 23 at 8 pm. Tix at:



If you enjoyed our feature, then a must-read for you is Prof. ROSS ALTMAN's piece in "FolkWorks," titled, "The Music Never Died." He begins with personal ruminations from the venue where Buddy Holly & co. played their final gig, then gets into some fascinating history of influences -- including HOLLY's, on a young BOB DYLAN, and the fact that a British band named The Quarrymen liked the "insect" name of Holly's band, THE CRICKETS, so they became... wait for it... THE BEATLES.

There are more details and ironies of why those who died in the plane crash were aboard -- while others, including WAYLON JENNINGS -- were not. Read it at: 


That's all for this edition.
Stay tuneful!


We'll be back again soon with music news and more "News of the Non-Trumpcentric Universe." (c)



Boilerplate? Where's the main pressure gauge? And the firebox?

What "boilerplate"? Who came up with that goofy term for the basic essential informational stuff...


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♪ The ACOUSTIC AMERICANA MUSIC GUIDE endeavors to bring you NEWS – and views of interest to artists everywhere – more specifically to musicians and the creative community and music makers and fans of acoustic and Folk-Americana music. That includes both traditional and innovative forms. From the deepest roots to today’s acoustic renaissance, that’s our beat. We provide a wealth of resources, including a HUGE catalog of acoustic-friendly venues (now undergoing a major update), and inside info on FESTIVALS and select performances in Southern California in venues from the monumentally large to the intimately small and cozy. We cover workshops, conferences, and other events for artists and folks in the music industry, and all kinds o’ things in the world of acoustic and Americana and accessible classical music. From washtub bass to musical spoons to oboe to viola to banjo to squeezebox, from Djangostyle to new-fangled-old-time string band music, from sweet Cajun fiddle to bluegrass and pre-bluegrass Appalachian mountain music to all the swamp water roots of the blues and the bright lights of where the music is headed now.
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