February 3, 1959 — “The Day The Music Died”

February 3, 2016 — According to Don McLean’s iconic song, American Pie, February 3 is “The Day the Music Died.”

In 1959, a plane carrying Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens,  J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson and pilot Roger Peterson crashed near Clear lake, Iowa. 

The musicians were on tour and decided at the last minute to take a plane rather than drive by tour bus to their next venue in Moorhead, Minnesota. “The Big Bopper” was not supposed to be on the plane. His seat was originally supposed to be taken by Waylon Jennings, who was a member of Holly’s band. But Jennings gave up his seat to Richardson, who had the flu.

Jennings, who would go on to have a remarkable solo career of his own, always felt some responsibility for the events of that night. He would later write a song called  A Long Time Ago with author and songwriter Shel Silverstein. In the song he says, “Don’t ask me who I gave my seat to on that plane … I think you already know.”

Buddy Holly, of course, was one of the seminal figures in early rock ‘n’ roll. Rolling Stone magazine has him at #13 on its list of “100 Greatest Artists.”

Although Don McLean would never explain his lyrics in any significant way, the general consensus is that the song refers to the death of innocence.

FilmRise presents a collection of performances by numerous music legends:

The Legends in Concert series includes performances by Ringo Starr, James Brown and Bing Crosby.

The Music Box documentary series includes biographies and performances by Michael Jackson, ABBA, The Who, Frank Sinatra, Madonna, Eminem, John Lennon, The Rolling Stones and Madonna, among many other.

Rhythm and Blues at the Apollo Theater  features performances by some of the greatest performers in the world of “Blues,” including Big Joe Turner, Ruth Brown, Dinah Washington and The Clovers.

Because music lives on.
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