Tuesday, February 03, 2009

It Withers Quicker Than the Rose

A radio station I found on the dial not long ago -- a 1950s-70s format, apparently new to the Chicago market, since I hadn't noticed it before -- summoned the ghosts of Buddy Holly et al. over the weekend by proclaiming it the "Day the Music Died Weekend." That doesn't quite sound pleasant, but it only seemed to mean that the station was playing more Buddy Holly et al. than usual.

What's the fascination with their untimely demise? They're hardly the only famed musicians to be killed in airplane crashes, after all. Just off the top of my head, I can think of Glenn Miller (presumably), Pasty Cline, Otis Reading, Jim Croce, much of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Kyu Sakamoto, Stevie Ray Vaughan (helicopter), John Denver, and one few people know, but who should be better remembered, Walter Hyatt of Uncle Walt's Band. There are others I didn't think of and even a book about the subject called Falling Stars (Rich Everitt, 2004).

Maybe the Buddy Holly et al. story has lingered because they were pioneers of such an enormously successful genre. Things would have been different in terms of posthumous fame if they'd been popular polka musicians. That said, if I ever pass near enough to Clear Lake, Iowa, I'll take a look at whatever memorials are at the crash site and the Surf Ballroom. I was glad to read today that the pilot of the plane now has a memorial, too.

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