OH! BOY

Buddy_Holly_cropped
Buddy Holly in 1959 (picture from Wikipedia)

Jan’s piece is about a recent U3A trip to a Buddy Holly tribute concert. Many of us of a certain age remember Buddy Holly with a mixture of nostalgia, gratitude and sadness, gratitude for his music evoking for many of us a fondly remembered youth, a time of optimism. Sadness that such a talented young man along with J.P. “Big Bopper” Richardson  and Ritchie Valens died so young, all three were in the same plane. A sadness echoed later by the death in similar circumstances of Otis Redding.

Oh! Boy

 Last Wednesday Bill and I went with a merry bunch of U3Aers on a charabanc to Northampton to see “The Buddy Holly Story”.

       Leaving Whittlesey at 10.30 am and arriving in Northants at 11.45am left us plenty of time to look around  the town and have lunch as the show didn’t start until 2.30pm.

On our walkabout, we noticed a small, old fashioned pub called the Wig and Pen. Ambling back, we wandered in looking for lunch. Inside was a long bar on one side and opposite were small wooden round tables with stools, in front of cushioned bench seats for people to sit and enjoy their pub grub. At the far end, up three steps was a smoking area with wooden tables and chairs in a modern style, (me, being me didn’t appreciate that fact even though there were ashtrays on the table, Bill pointed it out to me later). 

The Wig and Pen Northampton

     We sat down and were immediately attended to by a delightful young waitress who was pleasant and helpful. Suddenly we were startled by rain falling on a wide area of corrugated plastic roofing above us, making a deafening noise like rounds from a machine gun.  We remarked to the waitress that we hoped it would stop before we left as we hadn’t come prepared for rain.

She replied with a laugh that we needn’t worry about that as she would give us an umbrella from behind the bar. Apparently, they have quite a collection of forgotten brollies. Fortunately, the rain had stopped when we left.

The show was excellent. It told the story of Buddy Holly’s musical career, how he started and his rise to fame, eventually becoming a worldwide success but only for a short time as he died in a plane crash in February 1959 aged 22 years.

One time Buddy Holly was invited to perform in Harlem. In those days it was unheard of for a white man to play to a black audience. Two black ladies who were present at the time laughed rolled their eyes and told him “You’ll never get off that stage alive. They’ll eat you.” Buddy just shrugged “A gigs a gig” He performed. The audience was stunned when he first went on stage but by the time he finished they were completely won over. A small victory for racial integration.

The young man playing Buddy Holly was exceptional, as were his three “Crickets”. I was quietly singing along to the songs remembered from my youth as I think so were plenty of others. The whole cast danced and sang with energy and enjoyment.

At the moment in the story when Buddy Holly dies the curtains were closed and a lone guitar was spotlighted centre stage for a few moments.

Then the finale which was fast and furious, pounding out favourites hits and encouraging the audience to join in. Some members stood up, waving, clapping their hands and singing along. I’m sure a lot of us had our own memories of the fifties. I  was fourteen years old and had just discovered jiving. Oh Boy! did I enjoy dancing.

As we left the theatre happy and contented, I wondered if the lead singer, when he was playing his heart out in the finale, giving the music and dancing his all, whether in his mind’s eye he wasn’t seeing us but imagining the bright-eyed, young girls who would have been swaying, swooning, screaming, crying  at the front of the stage of his idol Buddy Holly.

 

Jan Cunningham

The hare that runs through the field of memory

It’s funny how memory and nostalgia work.

Sometimes these memories are the inspitation for writing we all tend to weave our memories and experiences into our work, whether consciously or not.

Normally I am fairly indifferent to entertainment at the U3A open meetings. Having joined the committee and a shortage of people during school holidays I found myself at a meeting I probably wouldn’t have normally attended. The two talented musicians Dave Bailey and Steve Gibbs, The Boatmen, entertained our audience with their own compositions together with covers of more well known numbers. A rendition of The Chain, a Fleetwood Mac number, was one I really enjoyed,  this song started the hare running through my memories.

During the sixties, whilst Peter Green was still with Fleetwood Mac, the band  performed at the Ramsey Gaiety, a dance hall, one Saturday night. Their very last number after several encores was “I Hear You Knocking But You Can’t Come In”. At that time this little Fenland town hosted some of the biggest music names of the sixties. I was able to see, amongst others The Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Cliff Bennet and  Zoot Money all at the Gaiety . To my lasting regret I missed Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band, the night they performed.

In Ramsey on a Saturday night, Great Whyte was filled with a long line of double decker buses parked from one end of the road to the other. These buses brought in young people from all over the Fenland Towns and villages. For many of us, in our teens, the sixties were a time of magic. The music and the sense of optimism was something that for many of us has never been repeated. On another occasion I remember hearing Martha and the Vandellas, “Jimmy Mack” for the first time, whilst I watched a line of short skirted, long legged girls on the floor of the Commemoration Hall in Huntingdon, dancing to it.

The news of Aretha Franklin’s death is just another reminder of the sound track that accompanied those best of times. It would be good to see some magic return, just some.

 

Philip