BIRMINGHAM RECORD COLLECTORS
DEDICATED TO THE COLLECTING OF MUSIC, ITS PRESERVATION AND LASTING FRIENDSHIP
MONTHLY MEETING THIS SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 10th, 2019 – 2:00 PM
HOMEWOOD LIBRARY – 1721 OXMOOR ROAD 35209
NEXT MEETING SUNDAY, MARCH 10th, 2019 THE SECOND SUNDAY
THIS MONTH’S MEETING
We’ll be remembering the Big Bopper, Ritchie Valens and Buddy Holly with music, memorabilia, trivia and much more. Hope to see you there.
THE MUSIC IS DEAD – LONG LIVE THE MUSIC
By the time you receive this the 60th anniversary of what has become known as ‘The Day The Music Died’ will have passed. On February 3, 1959 a tragic plane crash took the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the J. P. Richardson, aka, the Big Bopper. Their last tour, the Winter Dance Party began that year on January 23 and after they had performed at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, IA the night of February 2, the three boarded a plane to take them to the next venue in Moorehead, MN and the rest is history.
Of course music continued and rock never really died but in my own opinion the type of music we heard on the radio during the early years of R&R did change. If we take 1954 as the beginning of the time when R&R exploded onto the scene with Elvis’ Sun recordings and as he begins performing in small towns and small venues spreading the rock sound then it was approximately less than 5 years before ‘the day the music died’. During that time we had Elvis shaking all over the stage singing loud and giving listeners that new sound of rock. Along with him there was piano rock with Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard, the rockabilly sounds of Carl Perkins, Johnny Burnette, Wanda Jackson, Johnny Cash, and the rock sounds of Gene Vincent, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Eddie Cochran just to name a few. Now don’t forget to give credit to Bill Haley who had ‘Rock Around The Clock’ soar to # 1 ten months before Elvis had his first national hit and already had a top ten hit with ‘Shake, Rattle And Roll’ ten months before that.
Things were really rocking and rolling during the mid-fifties with a sound the teenagers and baby boomers couldn’t get enough of. So did anything really change after Feb 3, 1959? Looking at the artists charting and the type of music being played maybe there was. Of course there were other factors as well. Not only did three rockers die that February night but in just over a year Eddie Cochran would die in a car crash, Elvis would be drafted in early 1958 and when he returned it wasn’t long before he began doing those movies and his music wasn’t like the rockers when he began. Chuck Berry would have legal problems beginning in late 1959 and ultimately having him spend over a year in jail. Lots of radio stations quit playing Jerry Lee Lewis records after it was revealed he had married his first cousin once removed and that she was 13 years old although he said she was 15. And in early 1958 Little Richard would begin giving up rock music for the ministry. It seemed that no one took the places of the well-known rockers or at least doing the wilder rock they had been doing.
Taking a look at the charts from 1960 until the British Invasion we began seeing the girl groups, more Doo Wop and R&B sounds, the dance craze songs, the New Orleans sound grew, and we had the ‘Bobby Sound’ with Bobby Vinton, Bobby Vee (who got his big break when he replaced Buddy Holly on the Winter Dance Party), Bobby Darin (who had been charting since late 1958 but his recordings were all over the charts of the early 60’s) and then guys like those such as Tommy Roe, Del Shannon, Brian Hyland, Dion, Gene Pitney, and Neil Sedaka. And of course the surf sound was born with the Beach Boys and all the instrumental sounds that became popular.
So I would say, not being a musical historian and only giving an opinion from my remembrances of growing up with a radio on all the time even going to sleep with one turned on next to my bed (I’ve always said the greatest invention of the time was the little knob that became part of radios where a person could have the radio play for up to an hour and it turned itself off) that the sounds of the mid to late fifties were not as prevalent beginning late 1959 and early 1960. Even Elvis was recording smoother sounds for the most part. Songs like ‘Stuck On You’, ‘Good Luck Charm’, ‘Return To Sender’, and ‘(Marie’s The Name) His Latest Flame’. There weren’t the kind of songs that would make cameras show him only from the hips up as had happened on the Ed Sullivan show.
Now did Feb 3, 1959 create the change, begin the change, make the change? Not really. But let me share with you from a 1957 Buddy Holly interview done by Canadian DJ, Red Robinson. It went like this:
Red: ‘What do you think about rock and roll music? Do you think it’s on the wane or what?’
Buddy: ‘I think it’s going out quite a bit in the states.’
Red: ‘Down south?’
Red: ‘How far down’?
Buddy: ‘Deep’. They both laugh.
Red: ‘It is? How long do you think it will last? Another 6 months 7 months?’
Buddy: ‘Possibly, yeah’
Red: ‘You think after Christmas, things make change a bit?’
Buddy: ‘It might pick back up but I rather doubt it.’
A little conversation about his latest recordings and then they finished up with this.
Red: ‘If trends change would you hop on the train and go into the other or would you just give it up?’
Buddy: ‘I’d hop on the train’.
Red: ‘You would?’
Buddy: ‘Uh-huh. Because I prefer singing a little bit, something a little more quieter anyhow.’
So, Buddy seemed to see a change coming or maybe he was just tired of the whole thing and wanted to slow down. The touring may have been a part of it also. We’ll never know. But as music lovers, listeners, rock fans, whatever, we have to thank Buddy and all the guys who suddenly put a sound together that made up stand up, take notice and listen.
Let me finish by thanking the guys from the UK who were also listening, and some illegally according the British laws and policies, and formed their groups and brought back to the US the music we had just been listening to less than a decade ago. So many cover songs of 1950’s American artists that we enjoyed hearing again. They were recording Little Richard, Larry Williams, Willie Dixon, Elmore James, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and of course, Buddy Holly. Then a new style of rock came to being when these guys started writing their own stuff but it was all influenced by early American rock. And before you form the wrong idea, I like the music of the early 60’s just as much as I did the music of the late 50’s. But in a sense we had to, it was what was being played on the radio. And I thank goodness that as a record collector I have been fortunate enough to hear so many fantastic sounds of the late 50’s that never got the air play they deserved and found out how many performers tried to be like their heroes but just weren’t in the right spot at the right time.
Well, form your own opinion and tell me if I’m wrong if you like. The next time I’m wrong or make a mistake won’t be my first or my last. But Feb 3, 1959 did seem to be a part of many events that led to the early 1960’s charts looking different than the late fifties. What do you think?
Don’t forget to check out all the new internet radio shows the club has on its website. Go to http://www.birminghamrecord.com/brc/ and click on ‘RADIO’. New shows added weekly.
HEY! HAVE YOU HEARD THESE FROM BUDDY, RITCHIE AND THE BIG BOPPER?
‘Rock Around With Ollie Vee‘