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On the Night Buddy Holly Died

Scott Beach was a well-known figure in the entertainment scene in San Francisco. Read his bio in Broadcast Legends. I knew Scott through Doug McKechnie whom I knew through Mike Phillips. One thing I didn't notice in the bios of Scott on the Internet is that he was one of the first public figures I know of to come out as gay, actually bisexual. I remember once saying to him that maybe one of the causes of the high alcoholism rate for gays was that for so long the main place for them to meet was at bars. He said, "That's not true. The main place where gays meet is in my bedroom." Scott and Doug and I would get together sometimes and drink, smoke dope, and talk and play music.

One of those nights at his home near the Haight in SF he told us a riveting story of how he was one of the people involved with the show that Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper, and Richie Valens were flying to when their plane crashed and they died. The next time I saw Scott I played him a song that I wrote based on the story he told. "My god," I remember him saying, "You got the whole thing down exactly right." And then he broke down sobbing.

Here's a recording of the song from May, 1980, that I did on cassette at home in Bolinas not long after writing it.

Here's another version from a cassette tape made in 1986 for ex Elin and sent to her in Taiwan with love songs.

Words and chords to the song - page one, page two

Here's the version of the song  done with Scott Beach, recorded at a little four track studio [what's the name? and the name of the engineer? Later] at Fort Mason in San Francisco in 1980. Scott recreates his role of DJ in Fargo, North Dakota. Charlie Boone, the announcer for the show, and Bernel Bengston (sp?), the promoter, are two other persons mentioned in Scott's story and the song. The story also involves Bobby Vee whose new band, the Shadows, only two weeks old, was a last minute replacement for Holly's. As the song relates, Scott said they knew Holly's songs and played them so perfectly that he had to look at them to know it wasn't Holly's band and that they danced and cried for hours. That was the start of Bobby Vee's career which was most successful. [Post note - Vee just died on October 25th, 2016. He recorded and performed into his final year and put out 25 albums. Google Vee's friendship with neighbor Bob Dylan who first played in Vee's band.]

I see Boone is still going strong in Minneapolis - he just retired. I've emailed him at WCCO radio there to let him know about this going up and asking for his take on the accuracy of the story. Having spent a great deal of time interviewing people and getting their stories, and judging from the discrepancies I find among my memories and those of friends and family, I expect to hear a whole other version if he's inclined to answer - the song does start with his name. - dc

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