The Last Tour of Buddy Holly, the 'Big Bopper' and Ritchie Valens. The tragic deaths of these three fifties Rock n Roll stars was immortalised in Don McLean's classic hit American Pie. The poignant story of the build-up to, events of, and the fall-out from the infamous 'Day The Music Died' are told here in painstaking chronological detail. A must for any serious rock n roll fan or student.
It took almost 20 years for Lehmer, assignment editor at the Des Moines Register, to complete this book, and the sheer doggedness of his reporting will surely make it the last word on a pivotal event in pop music history. The problem is that his almost obsessive attention to detail--about weather in the winter of 1959; about the mechanical condition of the small chartered plane whose crash killed three rock stars and their pilot; about the lives of the fans who have kept the memory of the tragedy alive for the last 38 years--lacks a compelling cultural framework to give it meaning. (In his 1972 song "American Pie," by contrast, from which Lehmer's book takes its title, Don McLean made Holly's death a watershed event in youth culture.) Lehmer does implicitly suggest the importance of a southwestern regional milieu in shaping the work of these musicians, and his bleak description of the Midwest that winter is evocative of how the area stood on the fulcrum between rural isolation on the one hand and cultural integration with the rest of the nation on the other. These are at best secondary themes, however, and one gets little sense of more important ones like the nature of Holly's influence on later musicians or the cultural significance of Valens's Latino heritage for successors like Los Lobos. Without such elements, the appeal of the book is relatively narrow, rendering it a must for trackers of the fateful tour and "lost" recordings but tangential fare for most other readers. Photos.