Friday, February 25, 2011

The Streak: The Sixteenth Time, Out Of The Last 55 Times, That Clemson Lost A Basketball Game in Chapel Hill…

Buddy Holly was still alive.

The Streak: Game 16, December 3, 1958 – North Carolina 83, Clemson 67.

Clemson was stuck in a rut – 8-16 overall and tied for sixth at 5-9 in the ACC.  The Tigers had wins over Duke, Miami, Virginia, Maryland, Wake Forest, Furman and South Carolina (twice).

North Carolina finished the year 20-5 and 12-2 in the ACC (tied for first).  In the ACC tourney, the Heels beat Clemson and Duke, but lost to N.C. State in the final by a score of 80-56.  The Wolfpack was ineligible for the NCAA tournament setting the stage for an early ACC exit when North Carolina lost to Navy 76-63 in the first round.

Charles Hardin “Buddy Holly” Holley was born on September 7, 1936 (between games 2 and 3 of The Streak) in Lubbock, Texas.

Ultimately, his success only lasted only a year and a half before his death in a plane crash, but still Holly is described by many as one of the most influential creative forces in early rock and roll.   His works and innovations inspired and influenced other musicians including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and Eric Clapton, among others.

Holly was among the first group of inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.  In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked him #13 among "The Fifty Greatest Artists of All Time".

Holly’s older brothers taught him to play the banjo and the steel guitar and won as a kid.  After seeing Elvis Presley perform in 1955, Holly incorporated a rockabilly style, similar to that of Chuck Berry, which had a strong rhythm acoustic and slap bass into his music.  In October of the same year, he opened for Elvis in Lubbock, catching the eye of a Nashville talent scout.  

Holly's transition to rock continued when he opened for Bill Haley & His Comets. Following that performance, he was signed to Decca records.  The contract misspelled his name as “Holly.”

Holly formed his own band, The Crickets, and headed to Nashville. But Holly bristled under Decca’s tight reign and although he did record “That’ll Be The Day” it wasn’t released as a single.  Decca declined to renew Holly’s contract.   

What was left of Holly's plane. 
On May 27, 1957, "That'll Be The Day" was released as a single, credited to the Crickets to try to bypass Decca's claimed legal rights. When the song became a hit Decca decided not to press its claim from its prior contract. (A good lawyer would claim it null and void simply because Holley’s Holly was misspelled.)  

The song topped the US charts and was a hit in the U.K. as well. The Crickets performed "That'll Be The Day" and "Peggy Sue" on The Ed Sullivan Show in December and played a groundbreaking gig at The Apollo Theater.   

In 1958, the singles "Peggy Sue" and "Oh Boy!" reached the top ten of United States and in England.   Buddy Holly and the Crickets toured Australia in January 1958 and the UK in March. Their third and final album, That'll Be the Day, was put together from early recordings and was released in April.

Carl Switzer's Alfafa
In late 1958, Holly was offered a spot in the Winter Dance Party, a three-week tour across the Midwest opening on January 23, 1959.  The gig would include other notables such as Dion and the Belmonts, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson.   Holly assembled a new version of The Crickets that included Waylon Jennings on bass.

As it turned out the tour sucked.  The primary issue was long overnight travel through the frozen Midwest in a bus with a faulty heater.  

Following a performance at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, on February 2, 1959, Holly chartered a small airplane to take him to the next stop on the tour. He, Valens, Richardson and the pilot were killed   when the plane crashed soon after taking off from nearby Mason City.

Jennings, who would later rise to superstardom alongside Willie Nelson and others as part of the “outlaw country” movement, gave up his seat on the plane, causing Holly to jokingly tell Jennings, "I hope your ol' bus freezes up!" Jennings shot back facetiously, "Well, I hope your ol' plane crashes!" It was a statement that would haunt Jennings for decades.

Don McLean referred to the tragedy as "The Day the Music Died" in his song "American Pie."

Wright's Falling Water
It was a tough year on the entertainment industry as Carl Switzer (Alfalfa), Cecil B. DeMille (Director The Ten Commandments, Cleopatra, and The Greatest Show on Earth which won the Academy Award for Best Picture), Errol Flynn (Actor Captain Blood, The Charge of the Light Brigade, The Prince and the Pauper and The Adventures of Robin Hood), Lou Costello (Abbott and Costello) and Billie Holiday ("God Bless the Child," "Lady Sings the Blues" etc.) also died, as did famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

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