Rock and Roll's Moment of Silence
Updated: Feb 4, 2019
If you have gotten to know me at some point, you would know I have this weird thing with Ritchie Valens. Even though I found out about him when I was 8 due to a loosely based Hollywood rendition of his life, it changed me forever. After I watched the movie "La Bamba" I became a music lover and a guitar player. These two things still exist today.
On February 2, 1959, Ritchie Valens played his last show at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. He opened for Buddy Holly along with J.P Richardson, "The Big Bopper", and Dion and the Belmonts. This was part of "The Winter Dance Party" tour. Later that evening they got on a plane that crashed and the world lost three souls from the beginning years of rock n roll.
Ten years ago, I took a road trip to Clear Lake, Iowa. It was one of the strangest towns I had ever been to. It had stopped in time, and everything was dedicated to the three deceased artists. There were old Chevys driving along the road, and even our hotel room had newspaper articles about the dreary morning when the bodies were found in a cornfield.
We went to the Surf Ballroom which is preserved as a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame museum. There you can see the pay phone that apparently was used by both Valens and Holly with a giant padlock. There are numerous photos, posters and autographs. All of the decor is from the late 50's. It's a very eerie place as it is the closest I have ever been to a time machine.
Things got a little more emotional when we found out we could go to the actual plane crash sight somewhere in an Iowa cornfield very close to the ballroom. All you have to do is ask a local and they will direct you down a dirt road towards a giant pair of glasses. We got out of the car when we reached the glasses, and walked towards the memorial. The wind picked up, and I got the craziest chills down my back.
An older couple walked up to us as we were taking it all in. The woman said,
"What brings such young girls to this memorial?"
I looked at her and said,
"This is rock and roll history and I love Ritchie Valens!!"
They proceeded to tell us that they saw them perform when they were teenagers and always said they would come to Iowa to pay their respects. They were happy to see someone of my generation that felt the same way about the early years of rock music. I remember it being one of the most beautiful summer days of my life which was ironic since that same cornfield experienced such a dreary gruesome cold night in 1959.
If you love music, take some time to just think about what happened 60 years ago today. Put on a few tunes like "Bluebirds Over the Mountain", "True Love ways", or "Chantilly Lace". It might not be your thing, but whatever you are listening to now has a cosmic connection to that last performance. A performance that roared through a ballroom on a cold February night that ended in a moment of silence.
Bluebirds Over the Mountain:
True Love ways: