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Summit Up

SUMMIT UP
Summit County, CO Colorado
Rock and Roll star Buddy Holly's headstone rests among those of family members at the City of Lubbock Cemetery in Lubbock, Texas, Friday, Jan. 30, 2009. Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2009, marks the 50th anniversary of the plane crash that took the life of 22-year-old Buddy Holly, 28-year-old J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson and 17-year-old Ritchie Valens. The gravestone has the original spelling of his last name before he changed it to Holly after a recording contract left out the 'e'. (AP Photo/Lubbock Avalanche-Journal/John A. Bowersmith) ** MANDATORY CREDIT **
AP | Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

Good morning and welcome to Summit Up, the world’s only daily column that spent yesterday singing bye-bye Miss American pie…

Tuesday, of course, was the 50th anniversary the of deaths

of Charles Hardin Holley, Richard Steven Valenzuela and Jiles Perry Richardson, Jr.

You may know them better as Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper, and the crash of their small plane in Albert Juhl’s cornfield shortly after takeoff from Clear Lake, Iowa, is known as The Day the Music Died.

Although just 22 and in show business only for a year and a half, Holly’s signature sound and pioneering style influenced innumerable rock ‘n rollers in his wake: The Beatles are said to have taken their name in homage to the Crickets; Bob Dylan talks reverentially about the show he attended in which Holly made eye contact with him in the audience; Keith Richards saw an early concert and was captivated by “Not Fade Away,” which became one of the Rolling Stones’ early hits.

The pride of Lubbock, Texas, Holly dropped the “e” in his last name due to an error on his first recording contract.

Holly’s impressive string of classic songs included the glottal stop-filled “Peggy Sue” and the incomparable “That’ll Be the Day,” still sounding great on the hi-fi.

Valens, an 18-year-old whose hits included “Donna” and “La Bamba” ” the first U.S. chart-topper sung entirely in Spanish ” virtually created Latino rock that paved the way for musicians like Selena, Los Lobos and Carlos Santana.

(Interestingly, Valens didn’t actually speak much Spanish, and he learned the words to “La Bamba” phonetically.)

The Big Bopper, 29 when he died, was known for one side of a flirty phone conversation in his hit, “Chantilly Lace,” but he also wrote George Jones’ first No. 1 country song, “White Lightning.”

Trivia question: Which future country music star, then a member of Holly’s band, the Crickets, gave up his seat on the Beechcraft Bonanza airplane to Richardson that fateful night?

For those of you who don’t remember the influence of those performers and the historic tragedy of their deaths, think of how the news reverberated when Elvis Presley died on the throne (or did he?) or when a deranged assassin took down John Lennon or, for the really young, the car crash that claimed the life of Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes. (OK, maybe not the latter.)

Somewhat fittingly, Don McLean’s 1971 tribute to the singers, “American Pie,” at

more than 8-1/2 minutes, is the lengthiest No. 1 single in history.

Trivia answer: Waylon Jennings.

In fact, when Holly learned that Jennings wasn’t going to fly, he said: “Well, I hope your ol’ bus freezes up.” Jennings responded: “Well, I hope your ol’ plane crashes.”

It’s Wednesday, and we’re out driving our Chevy to the levee. Send us your favorite

recollections of music that has outlived the performers at summitup@summitdaily.com.


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