We lost Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Booper 50 years ago today.
I managed Los Lobos for 8 years. They had a number 1 hit with their cover of Richie Valens version of La Bamba. In 1987 that song was everywhere. I wasn't working with them at the the time, but they said they has absolutely no idea it was a hit. They were out of the country touring and were amazed at the popularity of the song.
In a short music career from 1954-59, Buddy Holly's output is staggering. If just for the number of hit covers of his songs. Everyone from the Rolling Stones (Not Fade Away) to Linda Ronstadt (That'll Be The Day) to the Beatles (Words of Love) recorded his music. He was from Texas and was living in Greenwich Village when he died. His widow Maria Elena Holly (they were married for 6 months when he died) recounted their time together in New York City in today's WSJ:
"We both were night people. We used to roll up our pajamas, put on raincoats, and walk to the coffeehouses to hear guitar players, and in the morning we'd walk to Washington Square Park. Buddy would bring his guitar and just sit there, and all these other young musicians -- a lot of folksingers -- used to come and talk with him and ask 'How do you do that?' because the way he played the guitar was different, with a down stroke. It was like an educational session there every day.
"I used to say to him, 'You're my old-soul man.' He was 22 going on 50, and very serious about his music. I use to say, 'Why are you so particular, so precise and picky?' And he said: 'Why? Because I write music for people to enjoy, and to make sure they're happy -- and I want my music to last forever.'"
A great song is immortal. The artist lives on forever.