The day the music died was supposed to have occured in 1959 when Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and JP “Big Bopper” Richardson died in a plane crash. Only, it didn’t die. The fabulous music of the 60’s and the 70’s was still ahead of us. The shoes of the early icons of rock and roll were amply filled by Elvis, Sam Cooke, Brian Epstein, Brian Jones, Mama Cass Elliot, Keith Moon, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Ronnie Van Zant, Duane Allman and John Lennon. All died young and before their time but still the music went on.
From the early days of rockabilly and folk music the sound evolved and grew. It soared to new heights until, some would say, the disco era. With the addition of electric guitars, amplifiers and the technology of recording with those instruments came pure joy on a disc. The disc was vinyl and rather cumbersome back then, but we didn’t care. The music moved us to dance, to cry. It moved us to take a stand against injustice. It drew us to a point where we were not going to take it any more, the establishment had to change or go.
Some of us lost our way in the drug culture that was fueled in part by the music of the time. Other of us joined communes to live the simple life of sharing and the music reflected that. When the communes proved unsuccessful due in part to the human ego and it’s total inability to share certain things, the music changed again. Always, always it was the music of our lives. People died and the artists changed but still the music was our world. Then came 1977. The year when Elvis died and Lynyrd Skynyrd suffered the loss of nealy half of their bandmates in a plane crash. Then in 1980 John Lennon died and we thought the music really had died with him.
Oh, the music stayed good for a few more years, but once into the 80’s it changed again and it became something it never was before. It was the era of big hair, plastic and the rag bag look. No one was protesting, no one was inspiring. No one was loving. It became all about the one night stand and getting laid. Like every other era before it, music reflected the youth of society. I wasn’t quite as happy with much of it as I was no longer a member of the youth of society. Still, I found that it had it’s moments.
By the 90’s the music was no longer that of my life, but of the lives of much younger generations. The 90’s brought us the deaths of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Kurt Cobain, Freddie Mercury, Frank Zappa, Jerry Garcia, Michael Hutchence and Wendy Williams. It was then I began to ask myself who was going to fill their shoes? I looked around and it was all hip hop and gangstas calling their women hoes and bitches. And I shook my head. I mourned the death of rock and roll as I knew it. Then I reminded myself that for those who came of age in the last two decades, this is the music of their lives and in 30 years they may too be mourning the loss of their beloved artists the way I do now.
Music is life. It has it’s high points and it’s low points. It sails on calm waters and rolls on rocky seas. It reaches as high as mountains and drops to the lows of the deepest valleys. It’s liquid architecture, something we can’t see yet something we build with. We know it’s there and that it’s built on a solid foundation. It will never die and there will always be someone to fill those shoes. We just need to stay still and listen.