The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

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February 15, 2014

Beatles’ legacy remembered, along with ‘day the music died’

- — There are a few big band fans remaining as well, but most converted to other forms of music as the 1950s and 1960s rolled by.

I bring this up after all the hoopla recently about the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ appearance in America. Their performance on the “Ed Sullivan Show” was the most watched TV show to date and hysteria swept the country – at least with young women.

I was never a huge Beatles fan and I never understood the adulation that they had. Yes, I think they were outstanding song writers and I liked their music. But I was more into Elvis, the Everly Brothers, Ricky Nelson, the Four Seasons, Dion, Bobby Darin, Jay and the Americans, the Drifters and the many Motown groups. And many more of course.

While I enjoy singing karaoke at times, I never sing Beatles’ songs unless someone requests it.

But as there were a lot of television shows dedicated to The Beatles’ 50th anniversary in the U.S., one thing that was overlooked was a very special 55th anniversary. That was the anniversary of  Feb. 3, 1959, or known to many as “the day the music died.”

For those not into music history, that was the day that a plane crashed in Clear Lakes, Iowa – a plane that carried musical stars Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper (J.P. Richardson).

Ironically, Valens was supposed to ride on the bus that carried the rest of the entourage on its Midwest tour, but he was suffering from a bad cold. So he replaced a guitarist on the plane.

That guitarist? Waylon Jennings, who went on to a huge country and western career.

The reason I bring up the 1959 crash is because Buddy Holly and the Crickets were a huge inspiration to The Beatles. In fact, the reason they chose the name The Beatles was because they liked the insect correlation of the Crickets. (They just made a slight spelling change from beetles.)

In fact, Paul McCartney of The Beatles met up with one of the Crickets later and said what he liked was how they crossed an insect name with the popular British sport of cricket. He was surprised to be informed that the group had never heard of that sport.

McCartney and John Lennon admitted that they copied the style of Buddy Holly and the Crickets, a small group combining harmony for great music.

In fact, when Lennon appeared in a practice session for the “Ed Sullivan Show,” he asked where Buddy Holly had stood on the stage. He became excited when he was told that he was standing in the exact spot.

The Beatles changed the face of music in the 1960s and the full story of their careers is fascinating, from the drugs-sex-and-rock ’n’ roll days in Hamburg, Germany, to becoming one of the greatest musical groups of all time.

Even though only Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr remain, George Harrison and John Lennon will never be forgotten. And for some of us, neither will “the day the music died.”

The Herald’s Lynn Saternow writes this column each Saturday for the Opinion Page.

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