I can imagine there’s no heaven. It’s easy if I try. No hell below us, above us, only sky.
If two of the greatest rockers of the late ’50s hadn’t died in tragic accidents.
Imagine if, on that night in February of 1959, Buddy Holly had settled on taking the tour bus to the next town instead of chartering a small plane…one that crashed soon after take off from Mason City, Iowa, killing the 22-year-old Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson (a.k.a. The Big Bopper).
Imagine if, a year later, Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent had spent a few more minutes in their London, England hotel rooms before climbing into a taxi….a cab that crashed into a cement post. Cochran died the next day at the age of 21. Vincent survived but his career never recovered and he died at the age of 36, from a ruptured stomach ulcer.
In addition to their songwriting skills, Holly and Cochran were both fascinated by studio recording techniques. Holly experimented with string arrangements and explored his softer side with tunes like It Doesn’t Matter Anymore (written by Paul Anka), Heartbeat and Everyday. Cochran was an early fan of overdubbing. He was also one of the first guitarists to use an unwound third string to bend notes up a whole tone, an innovation that became a standard part of rock guitar playing.
So try this on for size: A songwriting credit of Holly-Lennon-McCartney.
The Beatles chose their name as a tribute to Holly’s band, The Crickets. Picture Holly in the studio with producer George Martin and The Fab Four, working on arrangements or suggesting even wilder accompaniments than oboes and French horns.
Or….close your eyes and imagine Eddie Cochran and George Harrison trading licks or Cochran saying to Harrison, “How about if you play it like this?”
I’ve chosen Holly and Cochran because of their ages at the time. The Beatles were heavily influenced by Elvis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Carl Perkins but they were all well seasoned and might have seen John, Paul, George and Ringo as disciples rather than possible collaborators. It’s just speculation but I have a feeling Buddy and Eddie would have been eager to work with the young lads from Liverpool.
You may say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one. Imagine what might have been….