“Hey, Big Bopper just died!”

“Hey, Big Bopper just died!”

“Hey, Big Bopper just died!” my sister, Mary Sue cried as she burst into our bedroom that February morning. We younger kids were well aware of Big Bopper and his Chantilly Lace song and sang it routinely while running about the house. My sister had introduced us to many ’50’s musicians. My earliest favorite was the wonderful wonderful voice of Johnny Mathis – I stared at his album cover that confirmed he was an angel. Mary also danced at the televised Des Moines version of American Bandstand and won a dance contest where she was given an autograph dog already signed by countless teenagers she’d met. Her boyfriend was a local DJ named Stan the Man that we would call in our requests for newest favorites.
I grew up with 50’s and 60’s music always in the background. The KIOA good guys were my sound track. My family had stacks of ’45’s and albums. My best friend Joan and I choreographed dance routines to Wilson Pickett, Mitch Rider and the Detroit Wheels, James Brown, Martha Reeves and the Vandelllas, The Beatles… My big brother used to tease me with ” Hey punk, name this tune and I’ll let you out of the dishes tomorrow.” Inevitably I could name most every tune and artist he could come up with. Only to have him laugh and say “Too bad punk, I have football practice tomorrow!”
But top 40 pop phased into the musical heyday of the 70’s. I was introduced to Santana, Laura Nyro, The Allman Brothers, and my favorite album of all time, Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On.” I always loved Motown. When I went away to college an African American friend asked me, “You sure you don’t have ghetto in Boone, Iowa?”
So… now in my 60’s, I find I am oblivious and unaware of the popular music of today. I turn to NPR -I listen to the news. I think now I need music more than ever…


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