On February 3, 1959, musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and “The Big Bopper” died in a plane crash and that day became known as the day the music died. I understand, they were artists full of promise and a bright future that was cut short so I understand the tragedy and I in no way mean to take away anything from them. I guess I just want to share my feelings on what day for me is the day that music died. Oddly enough for me, it is divided into two days and I was not even born yet. One is my favorite artist and part of my favorite band, the other is an artist that I have come to love in the past few years. These two artists have a lot of things that make them very different and yet some things that make them alike.
I’m talking about Elvis Presley and John Lennon. The main reason I’m linking them together is that as I left the theater after going to see the movie Elvis, I was so touched by the man, not the image, and thought about how much an icon was lost too young and that in just three years the world would lose another music icon in John Lennon. Both are under different circumstances but both sad and tragic.
Both men changed music. Elvis Presley was the first big rock star and he was the inspiration for many bands that followed including The Beatles. John along with Paul, George, and Ringo took what Elvis started and changed it further, and still to this day, both The Beatles and Elvis continue to be relevant and inspiring. John and Elvis to me have one thing in common that makes them special to me. John was part of a group and Paul wrote a lot of hits, but it was John who with songs like Nowhere Man, Strawberry Fields Forever, and In my life started to sing more intimate songs, and as a solo artist he was an open book. Elvis for his part did not write his songs but once he left the movies, he started to sing songs that meant something to him and he had that ability to make each song his own, songs as Always on my mind you can feel every word he was singing it with all his heart. I love that about both of them.
I also admire both in that they were not afraid to speak their minds, I think of Elvis singing a song like If I can dream after the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy and Lennon in countless songs expressed his views. I believe both men were true to who they were and had little care about their image. Paul for example still fights for that Beatle image, Lennon was himself always.
One different thing was their last days. Elvis did not look well and I’m not talking about his weight. Something in his smile was gone, he was speaking a bit incoherent and he just did not look well. Some say it was Elvis that wanted to do all the shows, but Parker should have laid his foot down as he did for other things, like never letting Elvis fulfill his dream of going to Europe to sing, and stopping Elvis and getting him help. No one can know how was he mentally, but I believe he could still be here today if those who managed his career would have made him stop. Lennon on the other hand was finally happy, new baby and becoming a stay-at-home dad, Lennon was at last in peace and that was clear when he released new music. The mood changed compared to previous records. That is what makes it so sad that he was killed so senseless and forget about us the fans, I think of Sean and Julian whose chance of building a relationship with his dad was taken away.
For me, the music died in 1977 because a performer and a singer like Elvis passed and still he remains as relevant as ever. Seeing his interviews, he was a humble man despite the gold buckles like he joked an interview. And in 1980 because Lennon was taken away without any reason. Both were taken way too young and three years apart. I wish they could still be here today.