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THE DAY THE MUSIC DIED

"Virtually everything we hear on recordings and see on video and the concert stage can be traced to two icons: Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly," writes John W. Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute. "Elvis, the quintessential star, soon forsook rock for slow ballads and mediocre musical films. Holly, by contrast, was an adept musician and an artist who was devoted to his craft. He was a true pioneer, a revolutionary, a multi-dimensional talent. …

 

"The songs Holly wrote and performed are rock‘n’roll classics — two-minute masterpieces. They remain as fresh and potent today as when they were recorded over 40 years ago. ‘That’ll Be the Day,’ ‘Peggy Sue,’ ‘Rave On,’ ‘Heartbeat’ and others have been springboards of inspiration for countless budding musicians. As a songwriter, performer and musician, Holly is the acknowledged progenitor of nearly every world-class rock talent to emerge in our lifetime. The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen and others admit his influence.

"In March of 1958, Holly and the Crickets toured Great Britain (something Presley never did), bringing him face to face with many of his disciples. His famous television appearance on Sunday Night at the London Palladium held some budding musical talent in a trance. As Philip Norman writes in his insightful book ‘Rave On: The Biography of Buddy Holly’ (1996): ‘Up in Liverpool, John Lennon and Paul McCartney both had their noses practically touching the screen.’ Several years later, Lennon and McCartney formed the Beatles (originally the ‘Beetles’ in honor of the Crickets) and wrote and performed their own songs, as had their hero, Buddy Holly. In fact, the first recording the Beatles made, at their own expense, was Holly’s ‘That’ll Be the Day.’ "

While "Beatles" is indeed a Lennonesque pun on the Crickets, I doubt they were called "Long John and the Beetles" any longer than they were "Johnny and the Moondogs." Regardless, for those who don’t remember why Don McLean dubbed Feb. 3 "the day the music died," I recommend (along with the best latter-day interpreter of Mr. Holly’s lyrics, Linda Ronstadt) the entire 900-word essay.

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