Remembering the Popular Music Pioneers

Buddy Holly

With this wonderful resurgence of vinyl, nothing beats time spent sifting through boxes and crates of records at our favorite independent music stores. Expanding the search to locate previously unknown stores when visiting new towns, or returning to old haunts, has proven very accommodating to our record buying desires. And while most used vendors generally share similar inventory, every now and then, that one little gem jumps out at you and screams to be taken home.

During a recent ‘first’ visit to a record store in the GTA, I stumbled across a 1978 pressing of Buddy Holly’s “20 Golden Greats.” For just a few dollars, not only did I purchase a great album, but I revisited some fond memories of discovering this music back in my early high school years. Recollections of an American ‘made for TV’ movie (Rebel of the Road / AKA Hot Rod) being aired in the UK during the mid 1980s came flooding back, and with them, the fond memories of the vibrant golden era of rock n roll that made up the movie soundtrack.

During my early teen years, when I had a waning interest in the household musical choices, but before that age when long haired American rockers offered escapism and rebellion, I developed a fascination with the original pioneers of rock n roll music. Pulling out old family vinyl albums to learn more of Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and earlier Elvis Presley, it would be the opening few minutes of that TV movie and the well-placed inclusion of “Rave On” that prompted me to rediscover Buddy Holly. Such a great rock n roll song that I’d never heard before. Holly has a voice that grabbed my attention and left me craving much more of his music. I don’t think we had any Buddy Holly albums in our household at the time, but for me, this somewhat nerdy-looking guy was a rock star that the shy kid in me sought to identify with.

As if guided by fate, my high school music class was assigned the task of writing a short paper on the impact of music upon popular culture (as close to ‘theory’ as we got, really). While some classmates opted for Beethoven and others for U2, I naturally turned my focus to the birth of rock n roll. I recall time spent checking out books from the local library (ah, those pre-internet days) and learning not only of the popular music movement at that time, but also the cultural and generational divide between a younger generation seeking a new form of rebellion, and the backlash from their overly conservative parents. I don’t recall the final grade awarded for my hard work, but my appreciation for these ‘radical’ proponents of ‘modern’ popular music had grown exponentially.

So why this article, and why now? Well, if finding the album itself and finally having the original version of “Rave On” in my vinyl collection was not enough, spending some time this past weekend visiting antique stores, I happened to hear the Del Vikings hit “Come Go With Me” in one such store. Yes, another song from that movie, and another triggered memory of the search for that good old American rock n roll music. I have enjoyed spending time reacquainting myself with these Buddy Holly classic hits, and look forward to rediscovering more of the music that was influential to my teenage listening pleasures. And in thinking of “Come Go With Me,” I wonder where I am likely to find the Del Vikings on vinyl? Ah, unlike the 1980s, at least we now have ‘Google’ to lend a helping hand.

~ M