Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Since I'm asking my students to create and maintain a Blog for their social media class, I thought it was only fitting to start one myself. I do however, have the advantage of knowing I'm not getting marked on it. But being the instructor of this course, the pressure of performance more than makes up for that. The hardest part, for me, it to decide on a theme, a current idea, a relevant subject that I can focus on.

Thinking..... Nope, I've got nothing.

So, what's on my mind right now? Yesterday.

Yes, Tuesday February 3, 2009.

I asked everyone I saw yesterday what was important about that date, and only a handful of them knew (many of them probably found out by reading my Facebook status.) This bothered me.

You see Tuesday February 3, 2009 marked the 50th anniversary of the day the music died, and in all the papers I read, in Google News and most of the news feeds nothing was mentioned, with one exception. Q107 out of Toronto had the only tribute that I actually heard/saw or encountered on the day.
Except, in Iowa. Where, fifty years after Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper played their final gig at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, a six-hour tribute concert took place in the very same venue. Rock veterans included Los Lobos, Graham Nash, even Buddy Holly's surviving band members played in sub-zero temperatures reminiscent of that fateful night.

I'm sure Tommy Allsup and Waylon Jennings also paid tribute in their own way yesterday. How many just asked, who are they?? They were part of the Winter Dance Party tour in 1959 and were supposed to be on that 3 passenger plane with Buddy Holly and the 21-year old pilot.

As fate would have it, (ah a cliche) the Big Bopper (J.P. Richardson) had the flu and needed to get out of the extreme cold, Jennings was kind enough to offer him his seat. Waylon took the uncomfortable frozen bus instead, and went on to Dukes of Hazzard fame.

Valens, who was also ill, begged Allsup for his seat on the plane. They tossed a coin to see who would get it, Valens won the toss. His first, and last, plane ride.

All that happened 50 years yesterday.

For the record, I am not old enough to have experienced February 3, 1959, but I was around when Don McLean released American Pie in 1972. This song was probably that catalyst in my neverending search, and complete obsession for rock'n roll trivia. Is it true the plane was called American Pie or the fact the Don McLean dated a Miss America contestant and broke up on February 3, 1959? Does anyone know for sure?

So in my class yesterday I played American Pie for the students, they loved the song, but many didn't know the meaning. I tried to put it in their terms, but to be honest, I couldn't think of 3 big musical artists of today, all at the peak of their career, that would rock the world with such a tragedy as Buddy Holly, Big Bopper and 17 year old Ritchie Valens.
So now for fifty years we've been on our own, and I still don't know what moss grows fat on a rolling stone means, but it's good that I still believe in rock 'n roll and think music can save my moral soul.

And yes, February still makes me shiver.


  1. You're absolutely right about there being no modern musicians who can compare. Britney Spears? Rihanna? Jay-Z? Young Jeezy? THIS is what we have to work with?! Not even Bono, Chris Martin or Celine Dion can compare. I can't think of too many recent musicians that had the same impact as those pioneers of rock and roll. They managed to not only entertain, but actually shape an entire generation. Their work shaped the future of Rock.

  2. Congrats on the blog - hope you keep it up. But I do have to comment on your comment about Waylon Jennings. Saying that he went on to "Dukes of Hazzard fame" would be like saying Willie Nelson went on to fame as Uncle Jessie in the movie remake. I'm not a Waylon Jennings fan by any means, but he did contribute so much more than just a theme song to a really bad 70's comedy.

  3. Lol you are right! Waylon didn't just sing the theme song, he was the narrator for the shows too.

  4. Hey Linda, perhaps the Madonna version would mean more to a twenty-something audience?