Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Day the Music Died, 50 years ago

"But February made me shiver
With every paper I’d deliver.
Bad news on the doorstep;
I couldn’t take one more step."
... Don McLean, "American Pie"

The story of the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson is one of those rock ‘n’ roll legends that it seems like I’ve always known about: At about 1:00 a.m., on Feb. 3, 1959, a single-engine, four-seat Beechnut aircraft took off in a snow storm from the Mason City Airport in Iowa. Within minutes the plane went down, killing all three passengers and pilot Roger Peterson.

There are literally pages and pages of information about Buddy Holly and about the plane crash. As jumping off points, I can recommend Holly’s Wiki page, as well as The Day the Music Died Wikipedia page. Both of those sites have links to more information and suggestions for further reading.

In memory of Buddy Holly (but with no slight to the Big Bopper or Richie Valens), I’ve got a few songs that come from a Purple Chick collection titled The Complete Buddy Holly – Volume One. Like all Purple Chick releases, there are tons of alternates, demos, home recordings, and live performances that were left off the commercial releases. Volume one of this 10-disk set reaches back to a 1949 home recording and goes through the April 1956 sessions at the Norman Petty Studios in Clovis, NM., just before Buddy Holly and the Crickets recorded their debut album. The notes came along with the file, so I can’t necessarily vouch for their accuracy.

My Two Timin’ Woman.mp3 ~ c.1949: Home Recording, 3315 36th St., Lubbock, Texas.
 Buddy Holly: vocal, acoustic guitar

I’ll Just Pretend.mp3
~ c. 1952: Home Recording, 3315 36th St., Lubbock, Texas.
 Bob Montgomery (poss. Jack Neal): lead vocal, guitar; Buddy Holly: second vocal, mandolin

I Gambled My Heart.mp3
~ c. late 1954/April 1955: Nesman Recording Studio - Wichita Falls, Texas. Bob Montgomery: lead vocal, acoustic guitar; Buddy Holly: duet vocal, electric lead guitar; Sonny Curtis: fiddle; Don Guess: bass

Baby Let’s Play House.mp3
~ mid-1955: Nesman Recording Studio - Wichita Falls, Texas.
 Buddy Holly: lead vocal, acoustic guitar; Sonny Curtis: lead guitar; Larry Welborn: bass; Jerry Allison: drums

Love Me.mp3
Midnight Shift.mp3 ~ Jan. 26, 1956: Bradley's Barn Studio - Music Row, Nashville, Tenn. (Owen Bradley: producer)
 Buddy Holly: vocal; Sonny Curtis: lead guitar; Grady Martin: rhythm guitar; Don Guess: bass; Doug Kirkham: percussion

I’m Gonna Set My Foot Down.mp3 ~ February-April, 1956: Norman Petty Studios - 1313 W. 7th St. Clovis, NM. Buddy Holly: vocal, guitar; Sonny Curtis: guitar, lead guitar; Don Guess: bass; Jerry Allison: drums

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