April 20, 2014

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The Day the Music Died

What does this phrase mean to you?
We hear this line from time to time: "The Day the Music Died".

For most of us, it represents the death of a favorite performer.

But for a generation of us, it harks back to a turning point in rock and roll, when an idol died unexpectedly in 1959.

It was fifty years ago when Buddy Holly, Richie Valenz and the Big Bopper boarded a plane, bound for the next stop in a concert tour in frozen Minnesota.
They never made it.

The small plane iced up and crashed, killing all on board.

The accident was immortalized in a song (American Pie) back in 1971, where I first learned it was an important date.

Don McLean wrote a cryptic song with mercurial lyrics that some said were in code.  There was great debate over what the song meant, but ultimately, it wasn't too hard to match the images up with important figures in American Rock music.

McLean's song was a protest over where he saw rock music heading... un-dancible music that occasionally started up again, only to be beaten down by the forces of darkness, death, and an aging population more accustomed to listening to stereos in headsets than getting out onto the gym floor and dancing to R&R and Rhythm and Blues.

It's been almost forty years since that song was released, but I can still recite the lyrics from memory... and though other rock icons have come and gone, creating a new touchstone for new generations, the power of this phrase still echoes in the gym... like the ground breaking music of Buddy Holly.

BONUS POINT: Did you know the British popular vocal group "The Hollies" was named after this most influential performer?
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