American Pie Comments: James Dean, Waylon Jennings, The Beatles, and Bob Dylan
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There were supposed to be four people on the plane. There was only room for three. The fourth person lost the coin toss — or should I say won the toss. His name is Waylon Jennings. Jennings was the bass player for Holly’s band at the time. Some people say that Holly had chartered the plane for his band, but that Valens and/or Richardson was to replace Jennings who was sick that night.
About the “coat he borrowed from James Dean”: James Dean’s red windbreaker is important throughout the “Rebel Without a Cause,” not just at the end. When he put it on, it meant that it was time to face the world, time to do what he thought had to be done, and other melodramatic but thoroughly enjoyable stuff like that. The week after the movie came out, nearly every clothing store in the U.S. was sold out of red windbreakers. Remember that Dean’s impact was similar to Dylan’s: both were a symbol for the youth of their time, a reminder that they had something to say and demanded to be heard.
Some figure that if Holly had not have died, then we would not have suffered through the Fabian/Pat Boone era… and consequently, we wouldn’t have “needed” the Beatles (I have strong arguments opposing that opinion). Holly was quickly moving pop music away from the stereotypical boy/girl love lost/found lyrical ideas, and was recording with unique instrumentation and techniques…things that Beatles would not try until about 1965 (although I still credit the Beatles with all the musical revolutions). Without Holly’s death, perhaps Dylan would have stuck with the rock and roll he played in high school and the Byrds never would have created an amalgam of Dylan songs and Beatle arrangements.
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