Buddy Holly in Fort Lauderdale, 1958
You might know the Don McLean song, American Pie, with the phrase ‘the day the music died’ but did you know that this refers to a plane crash that killed singer Buddy Holly? It happened on February 3rd, 1959. Almost exactly a year beforehand, Buddy Holly had been performing in Fort Lauderdale.
This was on tour called ‘The Big Gold Record Stars’ and he and the Crickets performed at the War Memorial Auditorium. For the Everly Brothers, who were also on the bill, the show could have been a disaster.
The Everlys were a vocal group and didn’t have their own band so the local promoters had arranged for them to have a handful of amateur musicians from a Fort Lauderdale high school. Buddy Holly and the Crickets opened the show and the crowd loved them. But the Everly’s were horrified – how could their amateur teenagers ever compete?
Next on the show was Jerry Lee Lewis and once again the crowd went wild. The Everly Brother became increasingly despondent. They had to finish the show as the final act and they knew it would be a terrible anti-climax. They might even get booed off the stage. They were desperate. They couldn’t face this crowd with three members from a local high school band. In desperation, they appealed to Buddy. ‘No problem’ said Holly ‘we can’t let the kids in the audience down’. (He was only twenty one himself).
Buddy said that he and the rest of the band would back the singing brothers. They did, and the results were electric. Phil Everly said later that they had only been able to perform ‘thanks to God and Buddy Holly’. When the local reviews came out in the papers, it was agreed that the stars of the entire show were Buddy Holly and the Crickets. THe Everly Brothers, who were top of the bill, also received the hugest praise. The stars performed in Fort Lauderdale on, as far as I can discover. 25th February 1958.
I wonder if anyone reading this was there?