Saturday, February 9, 2013

Rock 'n' Roll Heroes

February 9th, 1979: ABC airs a television special, "Heroes of Rock 'n' Roll."  Out of respect for rock 'n' roll I will not Google footage of the show, but I feel fairly certain a large segment of time was devoted to The Beatles and Elvis.  While I respect both artists and their respective accomplishments, it almost seems too easy to decide on rock 'n' roll heroes as a storyline and go with The Beatles and Elvis.  It would be like writing a piece on successful restaurant chains and (surprise!) the most ink goes to McDonald's...not a lot of research needed to discover the obvious.

So now the dilemma...who do I consider a "Hero of Rock 'n' Roll?" That list would be fairly long if I am honest, and organized into several categories to satisfy my anal-retentive, obsessive-compulsive, Type-A personality.  If I limit myself to only artists/groups from 1979 and earlier (in keeping with the original timeline),  the list would still be several performers deep. 

Because I am attempting to think in the mode of my 18-year old self and I am eliminating The Beatles and Elvis, I need to remember what was going on at the time...Buddy Holly was gone 20 years along with Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper; an almost fatal blow to rock 'n' roll at the time.  Woodstock was ten years prior and many bands cut their teeth in upstate NY back in 1969.  The Last Waltz (still my favorite rock movie of all time) came out just one year ago, and punk/new wave was just beginning to catch on in the United States.  Yes it had been big in NYC and on underground radio, but the late '70s brought a lot of new talent to the forefront. 

For the sake of this post and in keeping with the theme I have to pick just thumbing through my vinyl I stumble across a Buddy Holly record...and I have to go today with the song "Not Fade Away."  I remember a "Kodak Moment" from my youth when my dad realized I was a Buddy fan...only to be spoiled when he also discovered I liked The Sex much for bridging the generation gap!

Buddy Holly is a hero of rock 'n' roll and "Not Fade Away" is a classic song for a few reasons.  First you have remember Buddy only recorded for about 18 months when the plane crash in Iowa took his life.  He has been called one of the greatest influences on rock 'n' roll and Don McLean wrote his tribute "The Day the Music Died" in 1973.  It is impossible to know what Buddy would have accomplished had he survived and lived a full life and pushed the boundaries of rock even further.

I love "Not Fade Away" because it rings true.  Classics don't fade away, and this song has been covered by (among others) The Rolling Stones, Stevie Nicks, Florence and the Machine, and countless local bands in countless bars and nightclubs across the country.  The song is timeless, pure, simple, and dead-on.   The attached video contains rare footage of Buddy in his personal life.   So listen and enjoy...'cuz I want you know just how I feel...

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