February 6 2021

For the Last Time

On the fortieth anniversary of Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys, in 1973, the Man and his band that created “Western Swing” got together to make music. As a result, The album, Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys For The Last Time Was Born.

For The Last Time was recorded December 3rd and 4th 1973 at Sumet-Burnet Studio, Dallas Texas. Besides The King Bob Wills, personnel listed in the record include a great line-up of Country and Western musicians.

The musicians on the album include Merle Haggard, Hoyle and Jody Nix and more.

Tommy Allsup produced the album and is also listed as one of the bass players. Tommy was that guy, the one who lost a coin toss to Ritchie Valens and lost his seat on the plane that crashed, killing Buddy Holly, Ritchie, and the Big Bopper. Investigators originally thought that Allsup had perished in the crash. Allsup had given his wallet to Buddy Holly prior to that fateful flight so that Buddy could use his I.D. to claim postage on his behalf. Allsup was expecting a package sent General Delivery from his mother.

The Winter Dance Party tour continued even after the death of the star musicians. Allsup finished the tour with Waylon Jennings the bass player of the band singing Buddy Holly’s songs. Dion and the Belmonts were brought in as headliners.

One of Tommy Allsup’s most noted accomplishments in music is his guitar solo in Buddy Holly’s, ”It’s So Easy.” It has become a classic.

Allsup is known for his associations with Buddy Holly and Bob Wills. Tommy Allsup a rockabilly and swing guitarist also played back up for Kenny Rogers.

Besides producing The Last Time, he also produced Bob Wills 24 Greatest Hits. He spent time in Odessa, Texas working with Roy Orbison and Willie Nelson. Tommy Allsup also produced for Asleep at the Wheel and Produced the Zager and Evans hit, “In the Year 2525.” As a session musician, Tommy played on nearly 7000 sessions. Later Tommy would open a club in Dallas he called the club “The Heads Up Saloon”

Thomas Douglas Allsup was born in Owasso, Oklahoma. He was a member of the Cherokee Nation. Allsup died in Springfield, Missouri on January 11, 2017, the last surviving member of Buddy Holly’s “touring” Crickets for the 1959 Winter Dance Party.

THE COIN TOSS

“Everything in life is subject to the will of God.”

Hal Looney.

Tommy and Ritchie Valens coin toss on the night of February 2nd 1959 in the Surf Ballroom, Clearlake, Iowa changed history. What if Tommy had been on that plane and Ritchie had not? I’d like to think that Valens would have had a long and productive career. I think his crossover talents from Mexican folk music to rock and roll would have been more evolved than he had already done with “La Bamba.”

This morning my wife and I were talking about this event. How many times has my own life changed direction at the “flip” of a single coin? I would like to say that my life isn’t necessarily controlled by me. I believe in divine direction. A belief in God’s will and not my own. It is usually when my own self will gets involved that I get into trouble. My wife reminded that a man named Hal Looney once told us that everything in life is subject to the will of God.  Sometimes I feel that my life is traveling along in the right direction and then in a single event that happens everything changes. Life is complicated like that at times.

Perhaps, Tommy and Ritchie’s coin toss was the will of God. I would like to think that it was more than just coincidence.

I want to believe that the coin keeps landing on the right side up for me and my life. I know that when it’s over it will be over even if my coin lands on tails, I will accept it.

Pancho.

February 4 2021

The Day the Music Died: Part 3

When I originally created this blog, I had grand intentions of focusing Mostly only on musicians who were Texas born and bred. As time has gone on, I have strayed away from my original idea of blogging only Texan. This week I have focused on “The Day the Music Died.” To try to hold true to my original idea of this blog, I want to point at that two out of three of the musicians who died during the plane crash in the Winter Dance Party tour were Texans.

Buddy Holly- born Charles Hardin Holley in Lubbock Texas during the Great Depression, September 7, 1936. His first demo albums were recorded just across the state line in Clovis, New Mexico. Buddy Holly is buried in the City of Lubbock, Texas Cemetery. A simple marker offers a carving of of a Fender Stratocaster guitar and Buddy Holley, his surname in the original spelling, H-O-L-L- E-Y, marking the spot.

Jiles Perry “J. P.” Richardson Jr. known as The Big Bopper was born in Sabine Pass, Texas where his father was an oilfield worker. Later the family moved to Beaumont, Texas.

JP Richardson began a career in radio. At KTRM radio in Beaumont, Richardson decided to start calling himself, The Big Bopper. He came up with the name because the college students at the time were doing a dance called The Bop.

As a songwriter Richardson wrote, “Running Bear” for his friend Johnny Preston. The song was based on The Bopper’s childhood memories and Indian tribes along the Sabine River in Texas. He also wrote and first recorded “White Lightning.” The song would later become George Jones first number one hit.

J.P. Richardson is also credited with creating the first music video. Filming and recording his early works in 1958.

The Big Bopper, J.P. Richardson, is buried in Beaumont, Texas. Rumors of foul play caused concern for his son. In 1987 at the request of The Big Bopper’s son, Jay Richardson the body was exhumed and an autopsy was performed by Dr. William M. Bass, a forensic anthropologist at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Jay Richardson was present during the entire procedure. Dr. Bass’s findings indicated no signs of foul play.

“There are fractures from head to toe. Massive fractures…. Richardson died immediately. He didn’t crawl away. He didn’t walk away from the plane.”

Dr. William M. Bass

The Big Bopper was placed in a new casket and buried next to his wife at Beaumont’s Forest Lawn Cemetery. For a time Jay Richardson, allowed the original casket to be on display at the Texas Musicians Museum.

Due to success with his song “Chantilly Lace,“ The Big Bopper took off from KTRM radio to join Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens on the Winter Dance Party Tour. The Tour began on January 23rd 1959. The eleventh night of the tour, Buddy Holly booked a plane to fly his band to the next venue, Moorehead, Minnesota. Waylon Jennings voluntarily gave his seat to The Big Bopper. Through a coin toss, Ritchie Valens won his seat from guitarist Tommy Allsup.

“Well, I hope your ol’ bus freezes up again.” Buddy Holly bantered at Waylon Jennings.

Jennings jokingly replied, “Well, I hope your ol’ plane crashes.” Those words haunted Jennings for the rest of his life.

The Eleventh show ended at around midnight, in Clear Lake, Iowa. The Headliners of the Winter Dance Party Tour, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. Richardson drove to the Mason City Airport, and boarded the red and white single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza. At around 12:55 am on Feb 3rd 1959, the pilot, Peterson, received clearance from the control tower. They took off—but the plane remained airborne for only a few minutes. Shortly after taking off, the Bonanza slammed into the ground at full throttle…The cause for the crash remains a mystery. Some theorists speculate Peterson may have lost his visual reference and thought that he was ascending while he was actually descending. The right wingtip of the Beechcraft Bonanza hit the frozen ground first, which sent the aircraft cartwheeling across a cleared cornfield at approximately 170 miles per hour. The pilot, Peterson’s mangled body was found inside the wreckage with Holly and Valen’s bodies nearby the main body of the wreck. JP Richardson, The Big Bopper was hurled approximately 100 feet from the crash site. His body cleared a barbed wire fence and was found in the next cornfield from the crash.

Chantilly Lace had a pretty face

And a ponytail hangin’ down

A wiggle in her walk and a giggle in her talk, Lord

Make the world go ’round, ’round, ’round

Chantilly Lace- Written and Performed by the Big Bopper J.P. Richardson

“The Day the Music Died,” is what February 3rd is now known as. Don McClean wrote the lines in his song “American Pie.” The song is about how music changed in McClean’s life after the death of these inspirational musicians. We will always remember Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and of course The Big Bopper.

“I’m glad that my music has helped other people as it’s helped me. It makes me glad that I did what I did with my life.”

Don McClean

Pancho.

February 3 2021

The Day the Music Died: Part 2

One of my all time favorite movies has always been La Bamba. Lou Diamond Phillips portrays singer Ritchie Valens. I have seen the movie a million times my favorite character of the movie was Ritchie’s Bad Boy brother Bob played by Esai Morales. My most memorable line in the movie is of Ritchie’s mother Connie, who was played by Rosanna de Soto.

“Not my Ritchie Bob, Ohh Bob not my Ritchie” Connie cried.

I feel like the movie La Bamba was a realistic portrait of the musician Ritchie Valens ( Richard Steven Valenzuela) actual life.

Only 8 months after signing his recording contract, Ritchie Valens was dead. Valens was only 17 years old on the day the music died. February 3, 1959 a plane crash claimed his life along with rock rollers, Buddy Holly, and JP Richardson known professionally as the Big Bopper. The pilot of the chartered airplane, Roger Peterson also died that fateful day during a tour that was named, The Winter Dance Party headlining the 3 rock musicians.

Ritchie Valens recorded several hit songs including La Bamba. La Bamba was originally a Mexican Folk Song. It was a song that Ritchie made famous to America even though the song lyrics were entirely in Spanish. It was ironic, that even though Ritchie Valens was of Mexican heritage he had to first learn the phonetics of the Spanish language in order to re compose and then record the song. Selena would later do the same with her crossover blend of music.

In May of 1958, Bob Kuhn, known professionally as Bob Keane signed Ritchie Valens to a contract with Del Fi Records. Together the two would record several records. Come on Lets Go an original score by Valens and Kuhn and Framed would be the first record to release.

La Bamba coupled with Donna on it’s flip side was the final record to be recorded in the artists life. The record quickly sold over a million copies and was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Valens’ was successful in blending the songs Latin American roots to rock music. It is said to be his most successful song. Ritchie Valens was the first musician to attempt such a recording. The formula of blending the Mexican roots music with the rock in roll culture inspired other artists to do the same. Selena and Gustavo Santaolalla, ( who won academy awards for Best Original Score two years in a row in movies Brokeback Mountain and Babel) among many others were inspired by Valens.

Valens guitar style influenced artists like Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana.

In recent years Ritchie Valens songs have been recorded by Los Lobos.

It was partly just dumb luck that Ritchie Valens was even on that plane that cold winter night in February of 1959. A coin toss with Buddy Holly’s back up guitarist Tommy Allsup sealed Ritchie’s fate by “winning” him a seat on that flight. Waylon Jennings who was Buddy Holly’s bass guitar player at the time also could have, should have, would have been on that flight, but he volunteered his seat on the plane to JP, The Big Bopper, as he had been battling the flu during the tour and was uncomfortable on the bus.

Ritchie Valens is buried next to his mother Concha “Connie” Valenzuela, who died in 1987, at San Fernando Mission Cemetery, Mission Hills, Los Angeles, California.

In 2001 Valens was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He also has a “Hollywood Star” in his honor located at 6733 Hollywood Boulevard.

A club in Dallas opened by Musician Tommy Allsup in 1979, “Tommy’s Heads Up Saloon.” The club was named for the fateful coin toss between Valens and him twenty years prior.

They were singin’, bye-bye, Miss American Pie

Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry

Them good ol’ boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye

Singin’, “This’ll be the day that I die”

American Pie by Don McClean

The song commemorates the event that took place in Clear Lake Iowa on Feb. 3rd 1959. “The Day The Music Died”

Pancho.

February 2 2021

The Day the Music Died

We have all heard Don McClean’s one hit wonder “American Pie.”  

But February made me shiver

With every paper I’d deliver

Bad news on the doorstep I couldn’t take one more step I can’t remember if I cried

When I read about his widowed bride But something touched me deep inside

The day the music died

The day the music died. Tonight is the night. February 3rd at around 12:55am Central Time, a chartered Beechcraft Bonanza crashed in a frozen corn field near the town of Mason City, Iowa. Aboard the plane were rock legends Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper (JP Richardson), and Ritchie Valens.

Buddy Holly is one of the most influential musicians to ever exist. His musical talents and songwriting influenced many other artists including Elvis Presley. Buddy Holly left behind dozens of unfinished recordings. He basically pioneered the standards still used today, the use of two guitars, bass and drums by rock bands.

Encyclopedia Britannica stated that Holly “produced some of the most distinctive and influential work in rock music”. AllMusic defined him as “the single most influential creative force in early rock and roll”. Rolling Stone ranked him number 13 on its list of “100 Greatest Artists”. The Telegraph called him a “pioneer and a revolutionary […] a multidimensional talent […] (who) co-wrote and performed (songs that) remain as fresh and potent today”. – WIKIPEDIA

Buddy Holly was one of the first musicians to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame noted his large quantity of material he produced during his short career. They stated that he made a major and lasting impact on popular music, and called him an “innovator.”

Pancho.