Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Nothing like living, though

Phycicist Richard P. Feynman died on this day in 1988. His last words:

"I'd hate to die twice. It's so boring."

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Don't know, but I hear they have harps a-plenty

This is the anniversary of the death, in 1988, of composer Frederick Loewe. Upon the death of his collaborator, Alan Jay Lerner, in 1986, Loewe said:

"It won't be long before we'll be writing together again. I just hope they have a decent piano up there."

Also on this day, in 1975, comic novelist P. G. Wodehouse died. He once wrote:

"It is a good rule in life never to apologize. The right sort of people do not want apologies, and the wrong sort take a mean advantage of them."

Monday, February 13, 2012

I believe I'll have another beer

Composer Richard Wagner died on this day in 1883.

"I believe in God, Mozart and Beethoven, and likewise their disciples and apostles," Wagner wrote. "I believe in the Holy Spirit and the truth of the one, indivisible Art;

"I believe that this Art proceeds from God, and lives within the hearts of all illumined men;

"I believe that he who once has bathed in the sublime delights of this high Art, is consecrate to Her for ever, and never can deny Her;

"I believe that through Art all men are saved.”

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Angels in waiting

Ethan Allen, U.S. patriot and leader of the Green Mountain Boys during the American Revolution, died on this day in 1789.

Allen's last words (on his deathbed, in response to a doctor who told him, "General, I fear the angels are waiting for you."):

"Waiting are they? Waiting are they? Well--let 'em wait."

Friday, February 3, 2012

The day the music died

Buddy Holly (Charles Hardin Holley) an American singer-songwriter and pioneer of rock and roll, died in a plane crash on this day in 1959. He was only 23 years old.

Although his career lasted less than two years, Holly's innovations were copied by his contemporaries and later musicians, notably The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, and exerted a profound influence on popular music. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked Holly #13 on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

Holly was on tour with Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson (The Big Bopper) in Iowa. After their last performance, at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, Holly chartered a Beechcraft Bonanza to take him and his new back-up band (Tommy Allsup, Carl Bunch, and Waylon Jennings) to Fargo, North Dakota. Bunch missed the flight, as he was in the hospital with frostbite. The Big Bopper asked Jennings for his spot on the four-seat plane, as he was recovering from the flu. Ritchie Valens was still signing autographs at the concert site when Allsup walked in and told him it was time to go. Allsup pulled a 50 cent coin out of his pocket and the two men flipped for the seat. Allsup lost.

The plane took off in light snow and gusty winds, and crashed after only a few minutes. The wreckage was discovered several hours later. The crash killed Holly, Valens, Richardson, and the 21-year-old pilot, Roger Peterson. Holly's body, along with those of Valens and Richardson, were thrown from the wreckage, Holly's body being nearly decapitated by his impact with a tree.

In his song, "American Pie," Don McLean called it "the Day the Music Died."

Holly's pregnant wife became a widow after barely six months of marriage and miscarried soon after.

Holly's headstone carries the correct spelling of his surname (Holley) and a carving of his Fender Stratocaster guitar.