The music died February 3, 1959, years before I was born. It was a big deal. Folks were still talking about it, debating it, and writing songs about it by the time the wet was beginning to dry behind my ears.
The power of music to move people to crocodile tears and motivate them to gyrate their bodies like Elvis Presley, then Chubby Checker, then James Brown, then Mick Jagger, then Michael Jackson is common knowledge.
It dawned on me a few days ago that if that winter day in ’59 when Buddy Holly, J.P. Richardson, (A.K.A The Big Bopper), and Richie Valens, (Valenzuela), died is considered The Day The Music Died, then this year, 2016, is The Year The Musicians Died.
I grew up on potatoes, beans, bologna, milk, country, and rock and roll. Not necessarily in that order. I still know all the words to “Mama Tried”, and “Running Bear”, that I sang along with even before I could pronounce my “R’s”, along with a slew of other Merle Haggard and Sonny James songs. They both parted with their music and beating hearts this year.
By the time I hit high school David Bowie music helped me survive two-a-day football practices in the brutal Augusts in Arizona. Talk about “Suffragette City”… The radio blared in art class my freshman through junior years and the Eagles owned the airwaves. That was back when Glenn Frey did most of the singing.
Bowie had the “Fame” he sang about, but fame doesn’t build a ladder to heaven. And only God knows if Frey had a “Peaceful Easy Feeling” when his soul slipped from this dimension to the everlasting one this year.
I was a young adult when I was wearing out the album titled, “Purple Rain”, by Prince as well as dancing to it in the arms of nameless women when it was the most popular song for “Last Calls” in the night clubs, what the Good Book calls “Dens of Iniquity”.
We’re not even through a third of 2016 and Merle Haggard, Sonny James, David Bowie, Glenn Frey andPrince Rogers Nelson have died. In addition to those musicians; Maurice White, (founder and leader of Earth Wind and Fire), Keith Emerson, (of Emerson Lake and Palmer), and Paul Kantner, (of Jefferson Airplane and Starship), have also passed this year.
Every one of those musicians that have passed this year left a mark on many lives… NOT ALL OF THEM FOR THE BEST…
I’m reminded that we all have gifts from God. We might not have the musical genius of Prince, who had scads of hits and wrote songs for the Bangles, Sheila E., Sheena Easton, Chaka Khan, The Time, Sinead O’Conner, Patti Labelle, Alicia Keys and more, but we all possess talents that can touch other folk’s lives… for better or worse.
With more than eight months left in the year, there’s a good chance the list of musicians that die this year will grow. A legacy that ends here and the gifts we are endowed with from Above don’t point people that direction, as Solomon said, “is all vanity”.
Only God knows the hearts of His creation, but we mourn for lost souls this year; the year the musicians died.