Posted by: suek2001 | February 3, 2010

Well..all right!

I am a blessed woman. I live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Duluth ,Minnesota. There’s also Rock and Roll History here as well.

I live two blocks form a 14 story building known as Greysolon Plaza. Back in it’s heyday, it was known as Hotel Duluth. The place people stayed in Duluth. In 1959,  some rock and rollers stayed in that hotel as part of a tour called “The Winter Dance Party”.  Three of those rockers would go on to be included in the sad mantra known as “The Day the Music Died”. Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and JP Richardson all stayed there. Holly performed at the Duluth Armory about ten blocks away. From all accounts, it was a rocking concert. It also had a profound impact on the future of music.

Robert Zimmerman was in attendance that night and seeing Buddy up close and personal made him choose music as a career. With that, the  musical world would change and interestingly enough, Holly’s death would prove to be a catalyst for change. Bob Dylan would see to it.

I make no apologies for my love of Buddy Holly. My Mom introduced me to his music when I was younger. I loved the rough, yet clean sound of those guitars. His unique vocal expressions and the looseness of the music in general were what drew me. In fact, when I hosted my Christian Rock radio show in Bible College, I used “Holly Hop”, an instrumental, as my theme song for a year or two.  Holly, along with other founding fathers of rock infused soul, rhythm and blues and country into rock and roll. To me ,that’s what is missing in modern music. Crossover is more a marketting ploy than a music direction. (more on that another time!)

Today, February 3rd, a plane carrying Holly, Valens and Richardson crashed near Clear Lake, Iowa in 1959.  With that crash, music was sent in a whole new direction. Some of it good, some not so good. American rock music pretty much died in that day as Elvis had gone into the army. Chuck Berry was in jail and the only thing that dominated radio were those gawdawful teen tragedy songs. “Last Kiss” being the worst offender. American music needed some sort of boost and it got that through three college kids with banjos and guitars. The Kingston Trio used the Weavers as a launching point for their careers. Tom Dooley rode the wave of “death songs” but their presentation was different. They had a serious bent to the songs yet they explored humor in mass transit.

As the Kingston Trio picked up their guitars, others followed.  John Stewart, John Denver, Joe Walsh, Lindsey Buckingham. The list of people influenced by the Kingston Trio is endless. Both Stewart and Denver found success in folk groups(Stewart actually joined the Kingston Trio) and then pursued very influential solo careers giving birth to the singer-songwriter movement that still exists today. Another performer influenced by the Kingston Trio was Bob Dylan. He created some folk anthems for the ages and helped spur the civil rights movement. He also fused folk and rock together to create music that assaulted the senses, touched the soul and changed the course of music again.

All of this because Buddy Holly sang “Peggy Sue” all those years ago for Bob Dylan in the Duluth Armory. Sure, the Beatles and British Invasion reshaped how rock music and youth culture were to be for years to come but even the Beatles acknowledged a Buddy Holly influence.

Holly’s death is a tragedy but his status as a rock icon is legendary. I feel pain for those he left behind but his legacy is beyond compare and as those who have allowed themselves to be touched by music will never cease to say thank you.

And as the musical world turns, I’ll close with the lyrics from an Eminem song that really captures the heart of any true music lover:

“You Better lose yourself, in the music , the moment, you own it, you better never let it go”

..and I know I won’t let go of my love for great music.


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