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Not Fade Away - the Crickets

Sixty two years ago today, Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens died in a plane crash while on the now infamous Winter Dance Party tour of the American mid-west. With 24 concerts planned in as many days in ferocious winter conditions, Buddy Holly chartered a plane for one particularly arduous leg to get some relief from the long daily hauls in an under-equipped, badly heated converted school bus in sub zero temperatures. The Texas born Holly, used to the heat of the south, suffered particularly badly from the snow and icy weather as did J. P. Richardson (aka the "Big Bopper") and Havens who hailed from Texas and LA respectively, both much warmer climes than cold Iowa, where they faced a 365 mile overnight drive to their next gig.

The plane, carrying just the three stars and the pilot, crashed soon after take off in light snow at five to one early on the morning of February 3rd 1959. The pilot, though having four years flying experience, was not qualified to fly in the prevailing weather conditions and therefore should not have allowed the flight to go ahead. His inexperience and lack of training in the instruments relaying information as to the aircraft's pitch in relation to the ground and horizon directly led to the crash.

The line-up style of the Crickets, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass and drums became the prototype for rock groups ever after, not least amongst which were the Beatles, who often acknowledged Holly's influence. While the group swiftly became better known as Buddy Holly and the Crickets and was reduced to a trio by the departure of Rhythm guitarist Nikki Sullivan, the first Buddy Holly album, effectively, is their first LP release, "The "Chirping" Crickets". The record features five Holly compositions and he sings lead on all twelve tracks. This is side one track two, and features the distinctive trademark Bo Diddley rhythm, showing Holly's r'n'b influences right from the start, raw, exciting and different especially from a white guy from Texas with a square haircut and even squarer goggle glasses. His looks often put off the modern young searcher after god sounds, but back in the late fifties and early sixties the fact that Holly looked like a nerd and produced such great music sent a message out to every young wannabe that maybe they could do the same.

And of course he didn't. Fade away that is.

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