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Rave On - Buddy Holly





Back to the tragic Winter Dance Party of 1959.


During the tour, Freddie Milano, one of the Belmonts, had been very impressed by the fact that Holly always carried a pistol around with him. As Dion recalled, in New York if you had a gun, you were either a gangster or a cop so a gun-toting Holly caused quite a stir in the tour party. As soon as he had the chance, Milano went and bought himself a Luger, and later had to be warned by the driver to stop pointing it at people and not to muck around with it. Eventually he was made to take the clip of the gun. On February 3rd, the morning of the plane crash, the bus arrived at their matinee gig to discover the bad news. They cancelled the gig, but decided they had to go on with the tour or risk lawsuits. That evening they played Moorhead as originally planned. After a radio plea for local performers to pitch in, a school band from nearby Fargo, including lead singer 15 year old Bobby Vee, showed up. This was Bobby Vee's first break and key to him being noticed and picked up by a label.


Dion, Bobby Vee and Holly's tour band which included Waylon Jennings on bass, all did sets including covers of the deceased performers' songs. At the finish, after a few words in memory of the missing stars, nineteen year old Dion said they would "rave on forever" and played Holly's "Rave On".


After the show, the promoter paid them a mere $150 of the $600 due saying that as only one of the four headliners had shown up, then only a quarter of the agreed fee was owed. When they heard this, Dion and Freddie Milano got off the bus with Freddie's Luger and, in true New York style, "gave him an offer he couldn't refuse" and got the full payment.


"Rave On" is Holly at his peak, from the first word "Well" - probably the best first word in any rock song with its double trademark Holly hiccup -, through the wonderful growled emphasis of the word "crazy", to the laid back but simultaneously catchy urgency of Buddy's guitar. Norman Petty's catch-up piano solo is the distinctive flaw which makes it perfect.

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