Ritchie, Buddy & the Big Bopper


51 years ago on February 3, 1959 was “The day the music died” on a cold snowy night in Iowa. It was when musicians Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper (J. P. Richardson) were lost in a plane crash and a generation was heartbroken.

I found out about these artists when my sister and I discovered my mothers 45 rpm records and we were introduced to these artists as they were immortalized in music.

Buddy Holly’s “That’ll Be the Day” “Peggy Sue” & “Everyday” were my immediate favorites. The Big Bopper (J. P. Richardson) had “Chantilly Lace” which is still a catchy tune today.

Then came the magic of finding Ritchie Valens “Come on let’s go”, “Donna” & “La Bamba”. With “La Bamba” I had found the one missing element in her record collection a Mexican-American rocker. I figured that since Little Richard, Chuck Berry & Diana Ross were all still alive – “What about Ritchie?”.

That’s when my mother told me the story of the radio reports about the tour bus that developed heating problems. So they took a plane to another show but the plane never made it to the next destination.

While these artists left us too soon they still live on in pop culture. From Don McLean’s 1971 song “American Pie”, Gary Busey in 1978′s “The Buddy Holly Story”, The 2007 chick-flick “Juno” features Buddy Holly’s “Dearest”. Ritchie Valens was reborn as a pop-icon in 1987′s “La Bamba” directed by Luis Valdez. It was a movie I saw 7 times at the theater (Cinedome in Orange, anyone?). There was never a dry eye in the house when Esai Morales yelled out “Ritchie!”.  “La Bamba” the song went to Billboard’s number 1 that summer thanks to the cover by Los Lobos. And of course just through their own music alone which is all available on CD, Itunes and old fashioned vinyl if you can find it.

Thanks Brandon

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