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I'm Just Sayin: The day the music lived again

I'm Just Sayin': By DuWayne Paul

It was February 3, 1959. After a concert in Clear Lake, Iowa, Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Richie Valens took off in a light plane for a flight to Fargo and their next gig the following day. To the horror of all, the plane crashed just outside of Clear Lake and all on board died. That day was remembered in Don McLean’s song American Pie as “the day the music died.”

Buddy Holly was 22 years old and considered a true music genius. The music industry, not just rock and roll, was forever affected. It would be years before the music would come alive again.

Fast forward to February 7, 1964 – five years later almost to the day, and 50 years ago this month. This is the day the “music lived again.” The Beatles landed at Kennedy Airport in New York to a frantic crowd of fans and began a musical odyssey that has not been rivaled since.

You may think Michael Jackson was a popular phenomenon, but he was nothing compared to how the Beatles could attract a crowd and media attention. Two days after the Beatles landed in New York, the group made their epic appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, and American music and culture would never be the same.

I remember watching the Ed Sullivan Show that night and was mesmerized by the four mop-top lads from Liverpool. It spawned my love for music and rock and roll.

What most people don’t realize is that the Beatles put in many years of playing and practicing before they became what we know today. From 1957 to 1962, they mostly played clubs and pubs in Liverpool, England and Hamburg, Germany, working on their sound and composing their earliest songs. Those songs were inspired by the likes of Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and the “Delta blues crowd,” which was the southern blues composed and played in the Mississippi Delta area. Their popularity skyrocketed when Brian Epstein became their manager and George Martin became their producer.

The Beatles at their core were just a very good band and their earliest music was always my favorite. I embraced the pure musicality and simplicity of their music and still do to this day. Although I love the creativity of the Sargent Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Magical Mystery Tour, Rubber Soul and Revolver albums, the early songs were the best. Songs like Love Me Do, I Wanna Hold Your Hand, Can’t Buy Me Love, and I Saw Her Standing There are classics and will live forever.

In 1964 there was no such thing as an iPod or MP3 player. We had small devices called transistor radios. They were the first portable radio and were powered by batteries. You could take them anywhere. I had my transistor radio with me all the time and wore out dozens of batteries because I always had it on and next to my ear, listening for the radio station to play a Beatles song.

It was a crazy time and our parents thought we were nuts. I would sit in my room listening to Beatles songs and try to mimic them on my guitar. My parents would come in the room, just shake their head, and wonder what was happening to their son and America. What it was called became a new word in American culture: Beatlemania.

“Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty-four?” – When I’m sixty-four – by Lennon and McCartney. This particular lyric has been popular at our house the last few years! I’m just sayin’.

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DuWayne Paul of Alexandria is a regular contributing columnist for the Echo Press.