60 years later: Those could have been the days if Buddy Holly lived

The spot in rural Iowa off Interstate 35 was a bit of a challenge to find.

Once we found it, there was a short saunter along the side of a field.

Then we found … where four fields meet   … the metal monument to Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson … where their plane crashed 60 years ago today. Fans had littered coins, driver’s licenses, Mardi Gras beads and more.

I went on this side trip driving back to Lubbock from Wisconsin about ten years ago. We were planning a special section in the Avalanche-Journal marking the 50th anniversary of the fatal crash that killed the most famous and influential Lubbock native. I took photos and a video clip of the monument.

I knew about Buddy Holly before moving to Lubbock in 2006.

I didn’t really know about Buddy Holly until I’d been here a few years.

But I didn’t really know about Buddy Holly until I’d been here a few years.

Walked into the Buddy Holly Center and saw the quote from Paul McCartney stating the first 40 or so songs the Beatles wrote were influenced by Buddy Holly.

That sunk in.

The Beatles influenced, and still influence, popular music.

A young man from Lubbock, Texas influenced them.

And the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Elton John, Graham Nash and more.

The show was that more special for all of us in Lubbock because being in Lubbock was special to McCartney.

The best concert I’ve ever seen was Paul McCartney at United Supermarkets Arena in 2014. He obviously has an incredible catalog of music to pick from. But the show was that more special for all of us in Lubbock because being in Lubbock was special to McCartney.

“Hey, Lubbock, you don’t know how exciting it is for me to be here in Lubbock, Texas,” McCartney said that night, pausing, then saying he needed a minute to drink it all in because it had been a lifelong dream to play in Holly’s hometown.

“We followed his records and that was really the beginning of The Beatles,” McCartney told the audience that night in a story in the Avalanche-Journal.

McCartney told a few Holly/Crickets stories that night and played “It’s So Easy” while graphics of Lubbock, Holly and the Crickets played on the big screen behind the massive stage.

It was amazing.

Meanwhile, in that massive special section we did when I was still at the newspaper, there was an exhaustive list of who has covered Holly’s songs.

I’m slowly building a collection of Holly covers on my digital music collection.

Which cover of “Not Fade Away” is best?

James Taylor? Florence & The Machine? Then there’s Joe Ely … another musician from Lubbock … whose “Live in London” version is just awesome.

Linda Ronstadt’s version of “That’ll Be The Day” is on a workout playlist.

Kid Rock covers “Well All Right.” Cee Lo Green did “(You’re So Square) Baby I Don’t Care.”

There are others.

The point?

The songs of Buddy Holly and the Crickets are still appreciated and continue to influence generations of musicians.

The songs of Buddy Holly and the Crickets are still appreciated and continue to influence generations of musicians.

And it makes me wonder … what would have happened if this musical genius lived?

I was at a dinner party close to the intersection of Slide Road and 19th Street last night. We discussed the story of how Holly intended to move back to Lubbock from New York and build a house with studio near that area.

How would Holly have evolved with rock ‘n’ roll music?

Would the Beatles come to Lubbock to record with him?

Would the Beatles come to Lubbock to record with him?

Would he have become another Phil Spector … the influential producer famous for his “Wall of Sound?”

What would all have that meant to Lubbock?

Lubbock turned out just fine.

We’re the home to a world-class university.

We’re up to three Panera Bread restaurants.

But it would have been nice to see what could have happened.

Lubbock Lights is a website launched in 2018 for conservative commentary and opinion and other issues about Lubbock, West Texas and our region.