The Day The Music Died
Eric Clapton has just been diagnosed with something called peripheral neuropathy and he says it might cause him to stop playing the guitar. Imagine the thing you are most passionate about, now imagine now it’s taken away from you and you’re not able to do it anymore. The truth is, it’s hard to even begin to understand what this means for Clapton. Not being able to do something you that you love, something that you have dedicated yourself to, something which you have spent most of your life doing, something which has become your career, something which has come to define you and pretty much your entire way of life; what’s comes next?
Peripheral neuropathy is as severe as it sounds; it’s a condition where the peripheral nerves are damaged resulting in stabbing, burning or tingling pain in the arms and legs. For Clapton, it comes in the form of ‘electric shocks’, which makes it incredibly hard for him to continue playing. At 71 years old, Clapton has garnered 18 Grammy Awards to his name and even became the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. With credentials like these, it’s no doubt that Rolling Stone named him “the most important and influential guitar player that has ever lived, is still living or ever will live.”
Although I have never agreed with the statement that all good things must come to an end, here are a few more instances where divine intervention killed the beat.
Julie Andrews famed for singing about hills being alive in The Sound of Music (1965) was diagnosed with non-cancerous nodules in her throat in 1997. She went under the knife and her voice was never the same again; she even filed a medical malpractice lawsuit in 1999. Here’s Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious from when she was Mary Poppins.
Lou Gehrig wasn’t the only one that lost his career to ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). Jason Becker was an American heavy metal guitarist and composer who was considered to be a virtuoso guitarist and one of the top players of his time. At the age of 20, the symptoms of his ALS set in and even though he eventually lost his ability to speak and shred, he refuses to give up, still composes music with the help of computer to this day. I wonder how many people who poured ice water over their heads know about Becker.
Linda Ronstadt broke into the Los Angeles music scene in the late ‘60s and in her heyday Time magazine described her voice as “strong and solid as God’s garage floor.” It wasn’t until she was 67 that Ronstadt revealed that she had Parkinson’s disease and had been struggling with it for the past seven or eight years frequently forced to turn down gigs.
Trivia: The title “The Day The Music Died” is commonly known as 3rd February 1959, the day when Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson were killed when their charted flight crashed in Iowa. Although Don McLean never specifically said so, it is speculated that American Pie was a tribute to these singers.