The first Moondog Coronation Ball took place on March 21, 1952, and it was America’s first major rock ‘n roll concert. Alan Freed promoted and planned the event. Over twenty-thousand fans tried to squeeze into a ten-thousand seat venue. Tickets sold quickly, prompting the promoters to keep printing them. Things got so hectic that the authorities shut the event down after the first song. Even though it was a bit of a disaster, the event is still remembered and celebrated every March. Today, half a dozen vintage rock ‘n roll performers entertain, with many of the attendees dressing in classic fifties clothing.
Today is the 53rd anniversary of the plane crash that ended the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, the Big Bopper. This post is to commemorate the lives of three stars that burned out way too soon…
Charles Hardin Holley (known as Buddy to his family because he was always nice to everyone) was born on September 7th, 1936 in Lubbock, Texas. Now known as a pioneer in rock ‘n roll music, Buddy didn’t show an interest in music until he reached his teens, even though he first appeared on stage at the young age of five. This was with his two older brothers Larry and Travis. Buddy’s father had given him a small toy violin, and with this little toy, he sang “Down the River of Memories” (which his mother taught him) and won a five-dollar prize. His brothers were surprised that they didn’t win. When it came to music, Buddy was into experimentation. He liked country, rhythm and blues, and gospel but rock ‘n roll must’ve spoken to him on a whole new level. “Hipockets” Duncan explained Buddy in this way: “I could see right away that Buddy had it. A lot of grit, a lot of determination-he just had more drive than the other youngsters there. He had a lot of talent, that’s true. What Buddy had was the determination to develop that talent.” It was Duncan that encouraged Buddy, his friend Bob, and Larry Welborn to form their own group. Buddy’s mother said that he used to have his friends over to play and practice, and one time he was arguing with them about how something should be done. When the session was over, Buddy told his mom that “they just don’t care-they don’t take it seriously enough. But it’s gotta be right, and so I have to get after them to play it like it should be played.” Some of Buddy’s hobbies included fishing, leather work, reading, and hunting. Buddy was among the first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. Rolling Stone rated Holly #13 among the Fifty Greatest Artists of All Time. It is said that due to not being able to get his money from Norman Petty, Buddy had to go back on tour because his wife was pregnant and the rent was due. It was the Winter Dance Party Tour, and sadly, it would be his last.
Richard Steven Valenzuela (Ritchie Valens) was born on May 13, 1941 in Pacoima, California. Ritchie was brought up listening to mariachi music, as well as flamenco guitar, R&B, and jump blues. His father encouraged him to play trumpet and guitar, and later he taught himself to play the drums. Once, a neighbor saw Ritchie trying to play a two-stringed guitar, and fixed the guitar and taught him some chords. Valens quit high school to focus on his music career, and Bob Keane booked appearances all over the United States. Ritchie had a fear of flying, but eventually, he got over it enough to fly. Valens is considered the first Latino ever to cross over into mainstream rock. Just like Buddy Holly, Ritchie has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and he has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
Jiles Perry Richardson (known as the Big Bopper) was born on October 24th, 1930 in Sabine Pass, Texas. He was an American disc jockey, singer and songwriter. He was known for big voice and HELLO BABY!, which made him an early rock ‘n roll star. Richardson worked at the Texas radio station KTRM, and had a radio show that ran from 3 to 6 pm. He broke the record for continuous on-the-air broadcasting by eight minutes. From a remote set-up in the lobby of the Jefferson Theatre in downtown Beaumont, Richardson performed for a total of five days, two hours and eight minutes, playing 1,821 records and took showers during five-minute newscasts. He received awards from the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, the Texas Country Hall of Fame, and the Texas Radio Hall of Fame.
So, to close this post, I just want to say that even though Holly, Valens, and Richardson can no longer make music, their music will never die. Hence, the reason I didn’t title this post as “the day the music died”. People will always remember them, and when they think of these three bright stars, they will think of their songs and they will smile.