Friday, February 03, 2017
Rick: I know you've had to answer this question a million times, but please indulge us by answering it one more time. You were the Master of Ceremonies on February 2, 1959 in Clear Lake, Iowa--the last concert by Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper. Describe the scene backstage for us, and explain your part in that ill-fated coin-flip.
Bob: The bus with Valens, Holly, Richardson, Dion, and Frankie Sardo arrived in the late afternoon…actually around 6PM . We hurriedly got them something to eat, and then all pitched in to set up for the performance. Those days were pre-high-fi days, so we had to deal with only one microphone. The tour manager was Sam Geller of the GAC Corporation (which would go on to purchase Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus). As the set-up was taking place, Buddy was playing the piano. Sam and I were listening and he said to me, “This guy is going to be one of the greatest popular music composers of our time. He’s so talented – he can play so many instruments, and he creates such interesting music.”
Buddy’s talents were put to use during the concert as he played the drums during the Dion set. The regular drummer, Charlie Bunch was in the hosp[ital in Green Bay , Wisconsin , having suffered frostbite on the broken down bus! Buddy would play the drums for Dion’s set, which began the second half of the show. The first half was Frankie Sardo, and Big Bopper.
The second half, Dion and the Belmonts, followed by Buddy.
When Dion’s set was over, I sat down with him on the riser in front of the drum set and asked him to introduce his musicians. (Photo: Dion & The Belmonts 1959) When it came time for the drummer Dion said something like: “This fellow is taking the place of Charlie Bunch, our regular drummer who is in the hospital in Green Bay suffering from frost bite. Um...let’s see…the drummer’s name…is…ah, oh yeah! BUDDY HOLLY!”
Buddy jumped up, grabbed his guitar and began singing “Gotta Travel On.” The backup men quickly changed places and joined Buddy before he was half way through the first stanza.
There was some drama taking place off-stage, even before we got started, actually. At one point Bopper (photo) was sitting with my wife, Kathy, and me in a booth. Kathy was expecting our first child, and Bopper said something like, “That’s what I miss most…being around my wife when the baby moves. Kathy, may I feel your baby moving?” Kathy took Bopper’s hand and placed it on her stomach as the baby moved. Bopper smiled: “I can’t wait to get home to do that.”
Interestingly, no such conversation took place involving Buddy. We didn’t even know at that point that Maria was expecting.
During intermission the back-and-forth conversation between Bopper and Waylon Jennings took place, resulting in Waylon giving up his seat to Bopper. At that point Waylon uttered a phrase that would haunt him all his life – “Well, OKAY, but I hope your plane crashes!”
Years later, at a social gathering in Kentucky, Waylon (photo) and I recalled that night. He said: “Man, there isn’t a day goes by that I don’t wish I could take back that comment. The next day when I got the news in Fargo, I went nuts. I cried, I yelled. And I began to drink. Drugs helped along the way. Of course, I realized years down the road I was killing myself, so I quit. I don’t know, maybe deep inside I was so damned guilty, I was trying to kill myself!” He admitted that no matter how long he'd live, he’d always be haunted by Feb 3rd 1959.
After the show was over that night, Tommy Allsup, pressured by Ritchie Valens, said, “Let’s flip a coin.” It’s at this point that two versions of the coin flip emerge. Tommy maintains he flipped the coin; I maintain that as soon as he suggested it, he reached into his pocket and realized he had no money – he was still in his stage clothes. He asked me if I had a coin. I took out a 50 cent piece, said to Ritchie, “OKAY, Ritchie, you want to go, you call it.”
“Heads it is, Ritchie, you’re flying.”
Tommy said, “OKAY,” and went out to the car to retrieve his bags which he’d already put in Carroll Anderson’s car. Regardless which version of the coin toss you hear or accept neither Tommy nor I demand “ownership.” We’ve talked about this, and have no emotional investment in either version. What we agree on is that night was a tragedy and an extremely emotional one for us all.
Rick: What was that next day like?
Bob: February 3rd would be a painful day for family, friends, fellow-musicians, and for those who attended the Winter Dance Party. Within minutes of my announcing the plane crash – I was pulling the 9 to noon shift on the 3rd, teens began arriving at the station (KRIB) just to talk. It became a day-long wake, Pepsi and Coke distributors brought extra cases to our studios – we had so many people just “hanging around.” Parents came, too. Many had been at the Surf the night before. It was the custom of Carroll Anderson to invite parents to the weekly record hops free of charge. Many teens and parents were in tears.
Some students from Waldorf College had been at the Surf the night before. Some came to the studios. I interviewed college as well as high school students. What I didn’t know at the time was that Waldorf, a two-year Lutheran college, did not condone dancing! The school had a rigid Danish-Lutheran background which was extremely conservative in social activities – “Sad Danes,” they were called in Lutheran circles. When the school heard about the students who’d been to the Surf, they immediately suspended the dozen or so students for a couple of weeks. No comments on the deaths – just on “school policy.” Fortunately time has given Waldorf a more enlightened school administration, as well as transforming the college into a four-year, well respected liberal arts college.
On the way home in the afternoon, after conducting about two-dozen telephone interviews with radio stations across the country, I drove by the crash site. The bodies had still not been removed, as the ambulances were still in the corn field. I could not bring myself to walk the hundred yards to the site – and to this day, I’ve not been able to make that walk!
On this day in 1959, Buddy Holly's young life ended. Thanks to Don McLean that day has come to be known as "The Day the Music Died". The person who is the foremost expert on that Don McLean song is former Chicago rock jock Bob Dearborn (photo), and about ten years ago I asked him to write about his feelings about that day in 1959...
The Day the Music Died
By Bob Dearborn
Some dates – December 7, 1941; November 22, 1963; August 16, 1977; September 11, 2001 – remain as indelible in our minds as our memory of the shocking events that took place on those dates.
We have just marked the anniversary of another stunning tragedy, one not as big as those others but an important milestone for many people of my generation and, to be sure, for me personally. February 3, 1959 three popular young music stars perished on what came to be called a dozen years later, “The Day The Music Died.”
In the very early hours of February 3, 1959, a small plane chartered after a concert in Clear Lake, Iowa, crashed shortly after takeoff leaving all four on board dead: the pilot, singer Ritchie Valens (‘La Bamba,’ ‘Donna’), J.P. Richardson who performed under the name, "The Big Bopper” (‘Chantilly Lace’), and Charles Hardin Holley, known by millions of his fans the world over as Buddy Holly.
I had seen death before, close up, although the earlier experience for me was more curious than catastrophic, more surreal than sad. Oh, I liked my grandparents, all right, but I was 10 and 11 years of age when they died and I hadn't developed enough yet intellectually or emotionally to really understand or feel an impact of their passing.
Of course, two years later, I was much more mature, and starting to realize all kinds of important things. What a revelation it was to discover that music could be about more than the beat, that movies and TV shows could be more than shoot ‘em ups and car chases, that the sudden loss and finality of death could be devastatingly sad.
The first time I was really moved by the passing of someone I cared about was when Buddy Holly died – somebody I “knew” only from his music, his hit records, his appearances on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”
I couldn't have guessed it at the time that his music would have a great influence on future generations of musicians and songwriters, including the young, not-yet-famous Beatles and Rolling Stones. I just knew I liked it. From “Peggy Sue” and “That'll Be The Day” through everything that followed, I was first a fan of his music.
He changed the style of rock ‘n’ roll music by altering the chorus and verse pattern of contemporary song composition. He popularized the four-man group configuration. Buddy was the one who advised Elvis to get a drummer (to join Scotty and Bill in Elvis’ backup band). He was the first rock ‘n’ roll singer to use violins, a whole string section, on his records (‘It Doesn't Matter Anymore’). For a man who enjoyed fame for only the last year and a half of his young life, he made the most of it. Leaving his fingerprints all over contemporary music, his influence has been felt and his popularity has sustained for almost 50 years.
It was more than the music for me, however. In an era of pretty-boy teenage idols ruling the music charts, here was this young Texan who was kinda … geeky. He wore horn-rimmed glasses on his face and his emotions on his sleeve for all to see and hear – from the youthful pedal-to-the-metal exuberance of songs like “Rave On” and “Oh, Boy!” to the playful intimacy of a song like “Heartbeat.”
This guy was not only different and good, he was the first rock ‘n’ roll star that I could relate to, since I was a gawky, sensitive, geeky kid with black, horn-rimmed glasses, too! Buddy Holly’s acclaim and success confirmed that it was okay to be and look that way, that I was okay. He was MY hero. And his death was a crushing blow.
Ritchie, the Bopper and Buddy were the first popular music/rock ‘n’ roll heroes to die suddenly, shockingly at a young age. Theirs are the first names on a list that we review with heartache for its scope and length: Eddie, Johnny and Jesse … Patsy, Gentleman Jim … Sam, Otis and Frankie … Janis, Jim, Jimi, Ronnie and Duane … Jim, Rick, Karen, John, Harry … Marvin and Stevie Ray. Elvis. John.
Each time the bell has tolled, we've been stunned to learn of the loss of another hero, another artist who touched us with their music, a person we never met but who was so much a part of our lives that we viewed them as friends. And, too, with each passage, we've felt the loss of yet another important touchstone of our youth.
For me that all started with Buddy Holly. I was changed by his presence while he was alive, profoundly moved by his untimely death, always transformed by his music. And touched yet again by all of that in late 1971 when I first heard Don McLean’s brilliant composition, “American Pie.” Masterpiece is not a big enough word to describe that recording.
The song’s story begins with Buddy Holly’s death … as felt and told by one of his great fans, Don McLean. The clever metaphors of American Pie’s lyrics, then as now, leave many people confused, unable to understand what the song is about. Don and I are the same age, we lived through the same music era with similar reactions to all the changes that occurred, and we were, first and foremost, big Buddy Holly fans. I knew immediately what Don was saying in that song.
Where did all this lead? I invite you to click on the link below that'll take you to a Web site that Jeff Roteman created in tribute to my analysis of American Pie. I hope you enjoy “the rest of the story” at this site, that it helps you appreciate what a wonderful piece of work American Pie is, that it makes you want to know more about Buddy Holly and his music, and that you find the experience a fitting observation for the anniversary of “The Day The Music Died.”
Bob's Full "American Pie" analysis can be found right here.
Really enjoying the Lin Brehmer 25th anniversary show on WXRT this morning. He's a local treasure.
I interviewed Lin back in 2008 for Shore Magazine, and here is that piece...
Lin Brehmer // WXRT Radio, Chicago
Lin Brehmer has been hosting the morning show at rock station WXRT (93.1) in Chicago for nearly two decades. He is known for his irreverent wit and deep love of rock and roll. His motto, according to his official station bio, is borrowed from the writings of Gerard Manley Hopkins: “Flesh fade and mortal trash fall to the residuary worm’, you and I might as well Rock and Roll.”
To borrow a phrase from John Huston in Chinatown: “Under the right circumstances, a man is capable of just about anything.”
Favorite Brush with Greatness
Mick Jagger in a one-on-one interview at the Ritz Carlton Beverly Hills. It was for a radio special for his solo album, Goddess in the Doorway. He was affable and expansive and thoroughly charming.
Least Favorite Brush with Greatness
Norah Jones throwing a fit when I was told to introduce her at Ravinia. Not sure she was expecting an emcee. Her road manager had me ejected for saying on stage, “Ladies and Gentleman, Norah Jones.”
Best Advice and Worst Advice
You should really be a morning guy.
I’ve really had an amazing opportunity to see every major band of the last thirty years when no one knew who they were. It gives you some perspective. U2, R.E.M., Nirvana, Stevie Ray Vaughan, you name it. I saw them all in small clubs. In the late ’70s and throughout the ’80s, I went to well over 150 concerts a year. Also, we aren’t really conscious of what people are doing while they listen to our shows, but now and then, a couple will come up and say, “We were listening to your show when our first child was born.” To be touched like that is the best perk of the job.
Something listeners don’t know about you
I get stage fright. Since I’m on stage all the time, I’m pretty good at pretending I don’t. I never eat dinner if I know I’m emceeing any event where I will be addressing a large number of people. And when I’m waiting to go on stage, I pace or pantomime pitching wind-ups.
Thursday, February 02, 2017
The company will retain the Entercom name following the merger and be led by current Entercom President and CEO David Field. CBS Radio President Andre Fernandez will exit once the deal closes. It will be based in Philadelphia with a nine member Board of Directors. Five of the board members will be current Entercom directors and four to be nominated by CBS Radio.
Entercom will become the second largest group owner with 244 stations upon closing of the deal. There will likely need to be spin-offs in multiple markets where both companies currently operate including Boston, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle.
In Chicago, CBS owns WXRT, WSCR, WJMK, WBBM-AM & their FM simulcast partner, WBBM-FM, and WUSN-FM. These stations have been CBS stations since the company merged with Infinity broadcasting at the turn of the century. Entercom currently doesn't own any Chicago stations.
One of the bigshots in the Entercom family is my old general manager from WJMK, Weezie Kramer.
Do you understand this? I'm not quite sure I get it.
Wednesday, February 01, 2017
SCOTUS nominee Neil Gorsuch's first call after his speech at White House yesterday was to Merrick Garland out of respect per @ronbonjean— Alex Moe (@AlexNBCNews) February 1, 2017
It was the wrong move when Obama did it, and it's a wrong move now.
But if it means I don't have to listen to some of those horrible surrogates, I'll learn to live with it. :)
Eckhartz Press' very own Dobie Maxwell will be appearing on the Steve Cochran show ths morning on WGN Radio during the 9am hour. Tune in if you get a chance. Dobie is always entertaining.
I'll post a link to the audio if they post it on the WGN site later.
LATE UPDATE: Here's the audio. It's the last twenty minutes of the podcast.
Still on the fence on this one. There are a few good ones, but I'd like at least one more old guy.
Conservative talker Lars Larson of Alpha’s FM News 101 KXL in Portland. When President Trump took over, The White House said four reporters would be chosen for “Skype Seats,” which is aimed at allowing reporters or hosts outside Washington to participate in the daily White House press briefings.
Among the tough questions expected from the exclusively conservative partisans invited are...
*Those Democrats are meanies. Why don't know they appreciate our beloved Trump?
*Do you think President Trump is merely great, or is he the greatest?
*Now that we control all levers of government, don't you think we should ban Democrats?
*Will President Trump pay for our medical bills if we punch a protestor for him?
*If we ever come to Washington, would it be appropriate to offer our bodies for President Trump's pleasure?
LATE UPDATE: Here's his actual question. Was I far off?
WH briefing— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) February 1, 2017
Spicer: “I want to go to my 3rd Skype seat: Lars Larson of the Lars Larson show.”
Lars: “Commander Spicer, it's a pleasure...” pic.twitter.com/CixxjU7wgk
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Why is she doing this? From the Hollywood Reporter...
Bee said she and her producer Jo Miller began thinking about an alternative to the annual dinner — known in Beltway circles as the "nerd prom" — the day after Trump's stunning Election Day upset.
Given the Trump administration’s open hostility toward the media — Trump adviser Steve Bannon, who joined the campaign after running the right-wing website Brietbart.com, has characterized the media as the "opposition party" — Bee’s dinner may be the only event in town that night.
In a conference call with reporters on Monday, Bee acknowledged the skepticism: "As to the whether the real one is going to happen? It will either get called off or it will be the most sinister, awkward thing you’ve ever seen."
Robert Feder has the details.
As a result of this move, Kathy & Judy have also been released from their Saturday timeslot.
For a very reasonable $799 (plus another $132 shipping), a Wrigley Field seat can be yours.
Sounds like the perfect acquisition for somebody who just won the lottery.
My mother was born in a refugee camp in Austria. My father was an ethnic-German refugee from Romania. They came to America in the 1950s, met each other in Chicago, got married, and raised an American family. I never experienced the hardships of being a refugee, but I've heard the stories my entire life. It's hard to imagine not having empathy for people in that situation, but maybe I'm just too close to it.
I should say that I never post political things on facebook (unlike this blog), precisely because I don't want my friends getting into a nasty fight--and I have friends on all sides of the spectrum. But I honestly thought this was an innocuous comment. I just wanted to express my concern for the refugees. What could be controversial about that? Holy crap did that unleash a shitstorm. Most comments were supportive (or defended me from the ones who were not), but there were a few that got pretty upset with me. Here are a few of the over 100 responses...
*My parents and grandparents and great grandparents and uncle came here from Ukraine in 1952. All legal, followed all laws, paid taxes and worked their asses off and appreciated the opportunity to be here. Important to note Ukraine was not a hot bed for terrorists and never sent terrorists to kill Americans. If people don't know the difference between our ancestors and our situation today they should stay off FB until they learn some history not to mention facts. Saturday over 3000 entered the US and 109 were "temporarily" detained. Proud of my family for teaching me to respect this country even when I might disagree with an issue. And while the whiners were out in full force this weekend the US came to agreements with other nations to establish Safe Cities. Which Obama should have done. THAT is not only having empathy but actually better than splitting families apart shipping them all over the world. Empathy and wisdom can work well when given a chance.
*Muslim Sharia Law worries me. It's legal to kill gays and treat women like cattle. Why would we import people with that intolerant mindset??
*Mine we're from germany and afew other countries they worked ,, paid their taxes, raised their children to be polite and respectful to everyone. and appreciate the fact that they could live in a land of opportunity and a better life for their children.... the differance is that they respected america and learned our language and didn't try to make america conform to how they lived in countries where they came from and these people are offended by everything about us.. ... that's not america..i have a great grandma that came from poland with stories of hell there that they ran from too. it's in everyones family.. we sure don't want our children reliving that hell..
*Rick, its the kind that want to blow us up that we're trying to keep out.
*This ban has nothing to do with empathy. Not sure why you're throwing empathy into the mix.
Some pretty sweeping generalizations about these refugees who aren't even here yet, but I'm guessing no amount of reason (and some of my other friends tried--some more respectfully than others) will change the mind of anyone who commented.
One of the comrmenters was a friend of 30 years who felt I didn't support him enough when my other friends went after him. He implied that our friendship was now over.
I'm guessing the word empathy no longer means what it once did.
What in the world is happening to this country?
LATE UPDATE: Cardinal Blase Cupich said the following...
“This weekend proved to be a dark moment in U.S. history. The executive order to turn away refugees and to close our nation to those, particularly Muslims, fleeing violence, oppression and persecution is contrary to both Catholic and American values. Have we not repeated the disastrous decisions of those in the past who turned away other people fleeing violence, leaving certain ethnicities and religions marginalized and excluded? We Catholics know that history well, for, like others, we have been on the other side of such decisions.”
Monday, January 30, 2017
Todd was already overseeing the programming of the other CBS-Chicago stations, including WXRT, WJMK, and the first station he programmed in Chicago, WBBM-FM (B-96).
And as for whether or not it's a Muslim ban, check out the words of Rudy Giuliani:
Former New York mayor Rudy W. Giuliani said President Trump wanted a “Muslim ban” and requested he assemble a commission to show him “the right way to do it legally.”It's a Muslim ban. Plain and simple.
There's a reason why thousands were protesting this at airports around the country, including people I know. It's not because George Soros is paying them. Believe that at your own peril, conservatives. Liberals believed that the Koch Brothers were behind all the Tea Party rallies. They were wrong too.
It remains to be seen if liberals are able to convert this passion into an effective anti-Trump, pro-democratic movement. But the passion is real. The tiger has been poked.
It'll very closely resemble the sexual harrassment case of Roger Ailes.
I may to actually watch that episode.
Well, nothing bad happened to Steve. He was just tired of doing the show...and he was getting a little too old for the part.
The Huffington Post tracked him down recently and found out what he is doing now. You can read all about him here. One thing you'll learn is that he has lost his hair.
This news, naturally, caught the attention of Eckhartz Press' very own David Stern, author of "The Balding Handbook"...
Steve "liked" the tweet.