Friday, 30 January 2009

The Day the Music Died

(By Richard Holway) When I started writing Hotviews I knew every reader and they knew me. I could write what I liked, when I liked. Clearly with over 6000 readers that’s not the case today. But please indulge me if I write a rare article which has nothing to do with technology.

Those readers who do know me know why today is such a special day – and it’s not just because it’s my Birthday either!

Just over 50 years ago I passed my 11+ (the best aid to social mobility ever invented). My parents bought me a Dansette Conquest Auto record player and a copy of the soundtrack of Oklahoma. I spent 6/11d – nearly a month’s pocket money – on Buddy Holly’s Oh Boy. Since then I have collected every Buddy Holly track ever recorded. I have used Oh Boy to get people up dancing at every party I have ever held. Indeed, I hired a Buddy Holly Tribute Band for my 60th Birthday Bash last year. So, got the picture? Holway is Buddy Holly’s #1 fan!

Exactly 50 years ago, on 2nd Feb 1959, Buddy Holly was on one of the package tours so popular in my youth (I saw the Rolling Stones first on a package tour that was headlined by the Everly Brothers!) Together with Dion and the Belmonts, The Big Bopper and Richie Valens, they had played the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. To avoid a long coach drive, three of them hired a small plane to get them to their next stop. In the early hours of 3rd Feb 1959 the plane crashed killing Holly, the Big Bopper and Valens.

Buddy Holly was 22 and had only been a ‘star’ for 18 months but his impact has been incredible. The Beatles, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, and many more, name Holly as their greatest influence. Many of the features you take for granted – like using classical music instruments on rock records, over dubbing etc – were pioneered by Holly. He was one of the first singer-songwriters. Indeed, he had written and recorded enough tracks for Coral Records to keep bringing out brand new Holly songs for 10 years after his death! Some of the greatest popular music ever written and recorded – like That’ll be the day, Peggy Sue, Maybe Baby, True Love Ways and tracks made famous by others like Words of Love (Beatles) and Not Fade Away (Rolling Stones)

Then of course there were the mountain of other songs which were about Holly – the most famous being Don McLean’s 1971 American Pie with its “the day the music died” line.

So, when you inevitably hear rather a lot of Buddy Holly on the radio in the next few days, remember what a huge influence he had on all the other music you hear. And give a smile about the image of an 11 year old Richard Holway buying his first record and starting a life time love affair with all things Buddy Holly.

Rave on!

1 comment:

Richard Holway said...

A really fantastic comment from Barry Murphy who many readers will remember from his (many) days at BT Global Services.

One of many emails I got about my Buddy Holly piece. Maybe too many old rockers are HotViews readers!

Hello Richard,

I loved your piece about Buddy holly. I too have a Buddy history to confess.

I was in the playground at school in 1958 with my friend Tony O'Sullivan when we heard the news. My elder brother had bought lots of Crickets records and we knew all the tunes and words well. We became early and devoted members of the Buddy Holly Appreciation Society which was based somewhere in Surrey and sent out a newsletter and organised occasional events. Tony (we were both 12 years old) also wrote a condolence letter to Buddy's widow and got a reply.

In 1961 Mike Berry released his hit record "Tribute to Buddy Holly". He was the best Buddy soundalike I have ever heard and his band The Outlaws, who at that stage included Chas Hodges and Ritchie Blackmore, were fantastic . For a couple of years Berry and The Outlaws played an annual Buddy Apreciation concert in Ruislip - they were excellent. I met Berry some years later (1982?) in a club in Norwich where he was touring and promoting "The Buddy Holly Story".

In 1964 The Crickets toured the UK with the Everly Brothers. O'Sullivan (who was very pushy and went on to be a succesful stockbroker) found out which hotel they were staying at (The President in Bloomsbury)and he rang them and invited us round for coffee and a chat. At that stage Sonny Curtis (I fought the law) was leading the band and the only original Cricket was Jerry Allison. They were really friendly and surprised at how much we knew about their work.

Curtis bought us lunch. At a nearby table was Brian Poole who was basking in the glory of the Tremeloes hit record "Someone Someone". The song was written by Norman Petty and I interrupted Poole's lunch and introduced him to Curtis and Allison.

I joined a band and tried to copy Mike Berry but I lacked his (or any) talent and did not succeed. Our highspot was playing a gig in south Ealing with a stand in drummer - Mitch Mitchell who lived near our school and we used to meet for coffee in the Wimpy Bar.
I was persuaded to leave the band and I started singing /playing Irish folk music in pubs around Bucks. I was a bit better at that.
My last ever gig was in Catalunia. I went to see a Wilson Pickett open air concert with family and friends. Wilson was a bit past it (it may even have been his last European date ever) and he asked for a volunteer from the audience to help him sing "In the Midnight Hour". We were in the front row and I was emboldened by wine so I sprang on to the stage. I was so good that even my teenage son and his friends congratulated me.
Today I limit myself to listening to Buddy and others and reminiscing with like minded fans.

Allbest Barry