Tribute Band

by wjw on September 27, 2008

Even KISS has a tribute band these days, and KISS isn’t even dead. (Except creatively, maybe.) (And if I know anything about KISS, they have a PIECE of aforesaid tribute band.)

I’ve never had the urge to see a tribute band, even for bands I like. Beatlemania remains an enigma— I’m not sure why anyone would want to see it, even though I’m a Beatlemaniac my ownself. Yet last night I found myself at Winter Dance Party, a all-star lineup of dead rockers, being a re-creation of the last concert of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper. (Dion and the Belmonts, who were also at that fated concert, were not featured, presumably because they were not on the plane that augered into that wintry corn field in Clear Lake, Iowa.)

(Quick quiz! Can you think of any rock stars who died in a bus crash? Clearly a bus is a far safer choice than the sort of rented puddlejumpers used by touring bands. Future rock stars of the world— if you want Mick Jagger’s career rather than Ronnie Van Zandt’s, please note this simple fact.)

So how did I end up watching a tribute to a bunch of musicians that I’m too young to actually remember? I was in Socorro for another reason altogether, and there are a limited number of things you can do in Socorro on Friday night, and this was one of them.

So there I was for two hours of family-friendly entertainment. Macey Center was packed, with an overflow crowd. There were a good number of people who looked like they remembered Buddy Holly the first time around, and a whole lot of people who might have been their grandchildren or great-grandchildren. It was pleasing that there were a lot of people there who had been born decades after the Day the Music Died.

I initially wanted to complain that the performers playing Holly and Valens didn’t really look like them, and then I realized that my complaint was that they didn’t look like Gary Busey or Lou Diamond Phillips. If I’ve seen any video of the actual performers, I can’t remember it. I only know their looks and personalities from the biopics.

The Big Bopper was played by Jay P. Richardson, Junior— which is to say the Big Bopper’s actual son, born a few months after his father’s death. He sang all his dad’s hits, of which there were a surprising number. Richardson Senior was a songwriter who mostly wrote hits for other people, like George Jones.

For the most part I surrendered to the music, which really is too good to die. The people having the best time were the folks from the Tech Swing Dance Club, who filled the dance floor and consistently performed expert moves that had me quite envious. Kathy and I danced also, less expertly.

So, I Raved On. I had a good time. The music was great.

But I still have no urge to see Beatlemania.

Ken Houghton September 27, 2008 at 11:37 pm

Gloria Estefan (not my definition of a “rock star,” but then again neither is J. P. Richardson; “star” is another question) is the only Bus Crash victim I can think of, and she didn’t die.

That sounds as if it would have been a fun show; glad you enjoyed it.

Here, btw, is a Buddy Holly video, live from 1959. (Closer to Harold Ramis than Gary Busey, but that’s why they don’t pay me to cast films.)

Anonymous September 28, 2008 at 2:44 am

Boots from the rap group The Coup had a bus crash, but he didn’t die. (And he’s not really a rock star.)

halojones-fan September 28, 2008 at 8:03 pm

Well, Cliff Burton (bass player for Metallica.)

Also, y’know…if you’re after lasting fame, then dying in a horrible plane accident isn’t a bad career move. After all, would we really remember Buddy Holly et al with as much fondness if they hadn’t died? I mean, they’d be remembered as part of music history, but not Cultural Icons.

Anonymous September 28, 2008 at 11:51 pm

Cliff Burton, bass player for Metallica, was killed in a bus crash.

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