Thursday, April 10, 2008

Boss Tracks; Rave On - Buddy Holly

"Rave On" is the second Buddy Holly 45 I came across in my quest to collect all these Boss tracks. Released by Coral on April 20st 1958 the single would reach a decent 39 spot on the Billboard charts. If you think that the Who invented stutter singing, this 45 will put a thing or two in perspective for you. The opening line "Well the little things you say and do" has seven hiccups in the first word alone! This fine piece of R&R minimalism was not received very enthusiastic by everybody. DJ Al Ros from NBC exclaimed, when he first played the record on the air, "What'd he say? What? That was Buddy Holly with mood music for stealing hub caps". Despite the singles sweet lyrics, the song is most associated with the Alan Freed riots that occurred a few days after the it's release during a Big Beat show in the Boston arena.

Alan Freed is the legendary DJ from the fifties who called himself "the father of R&R" and claimed to be the first who played the music on the radio. Although that is far from the truth, few DJs have advocated the genre as much as Freed did in his glory years. An energetic DJ who invited his listeners to be part of his make believe kingdom of hipsters. Freed's stormed the ladder of success but fell down hard. Taking risks with R&R on the air would soon bring him his own television show "Big Beat" which he would also transform into a traveling revue on stage. Because of his association with R&R many in the establishment of the recording industry felt threatened by Freed's success. The big labels didn't seem to know how to handle the genre and saw their market share go to small independent labels who did have the guts to take risks on R&R. At the same time there were other, though partly overlapping, forces in society who felt that R&R was jungle music, an affront to good taste and moral. In the fifties there was much fear that R&R would make criminals out of a whole generations of youngsters. Not just R&R though, there was a general fear for almost anything but nuclear energy in the fifties. Comic book creators and communists were lurking in the shadows to corrupt America's children.

Alan Freed got caught up in the middle of all this as R&R's greatest advocate on radio and television. So when during a Big Beat show in Boston on may 3rd some teenagers had the audacity to start dancing in the aisles, the police claimed to be provoked and the riot was on. Initially the police claimed that there had been looting and stabbings, Freed was arrested for inciting a riot. All charges were later dropped as became clear that all hell had not broken loose during this May show. "Rave On" still proved to be a fine soundtrack to this tale. Though the authorities did not get their way with Freed that day, he was later brought down during the payola scandals. Payola may have been common practice in the industry, where air time was bought from DJs for money or all kinds of services, it was illegal. Everybody was involved in it, but the controversial Freed was one of the few who actually lost his job over it.

"Rave On" was a regular guest during '78 tour, but has since been very obscure indeed. Maybe this tour will change that.

Rave On! Buddy Holly

Rave On! Bruce Springsteen July 7th 1978, Roxy

MP3 File

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