Tuesday, February 03, 2009


...has been dead a half-century.

It was fifty years ago today that Jiles Perry Richardson, Jr. (AKA The Big Bopper), Ritchie Valens, and Buddy Holly died in the crash of their small plane near Clear Lake, Iowa.

Waylon Jennings would have been on that plane, but Richardson had asked to take his place as he was suffering with the flu. Lucky for Jennings; not so lucky for the Bopper.

Years later, singer Don McLean would release his folk-rock epic “American Pie,” a song that cemented the plane crash into the American consciousness as “the day the music died.” Well, the music of the Big Bopper, Ritchie Valens, and Buddy Holly, anyway. Waylon Jennings survived that day, as did Dion DiMucci (of Dion and the Belmonts). So there was still some music around.

Moral? Only that life is uncertain, and that when creative and talented people die young, we are forever denied the full benefit of their gifts.

And that there may just be an Extremely Long Choon in it for some hungry folkie... the kind of Choon that runs over eight minutes thirty seconds and provides years worth of grist for the music critics’ mills as they pick apart every little word to tease out the Deeper Meaning thereof.

Oh, the Bopper, and Ritch Valens too
Were victims of the Cosmic Screw.
Gave their flight plan to the pilot;
Too bad he didn’t file it.
That plane was a Balloon o’ Lead
And when Holly landed on his head,
(A blow which rendered him quite dead)
That’s when the music died.

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