Tag Archives: plane crash

The music died

All the discussion of late around the Confederate flag brought the band Lynyrd Skynyrd to mind, since that flag is part of the band’s logo.

(I didn’t use that version here on The Sticky Egg because, um…no.)

lynyrd_skynyrd

That led us to talking about where we were when we learned about the plane crash that killed half of the band members.

[If you’re too young to a) know who Lynyrd Skynyrd is, or b) remember the plane crash, move along.]

I was in bed asleep. The phone rang — a corded phone, no less  — and I walked down to my mother’s bedroom to answer it. A good friend of my oldest brother was on the line, and he was crying. I may have been young, but I knew a call that late at night could only mean one thing…

Someone had died.

We woke up my brother, who came to the phone in a fog of sleep. We heard him say, “Oh no. Oh God. Oh no.” Then he hung up the phone and turned to go back to bed.  We stopped him, saying, “Wait — what happened?”

He said simply, “Lynyrd Skynyrd died.”

I’m not sure either my mother or I knew exactly what that meant, so we went on to bed.  When we questioned my brother the next morning, he barely remembered the phone call.

But it stuck in my memory, all these years — the day Lynyrd Skynyrd died.

Will-a-Mania

August 15th is a big day in music history.

  • 1969: The Woodstock Music Festival opens.
  • 1965: The Beatles play Shea Stadium.
  • 1935: Will Rogers and Wiley Post die when their plane crashes after take-off in Barrow, Alaska.

Now, you might not put Will Rogers in the same music sphere as the Beatles, but for a Broadway fan, The Will Rogers Follies — winner of the 1991 Tony Award for Best Musical — is a pretty big deal.

Prior to that show, Will Rogers was just a name in the history books to me.  Once a year or so in movie theatres, I did see cans passed to raise money for the Will Rogers Institute, which funds medical research in asthma, tuberculosis and pulmonary diseases….but that was the extent of my knowledge.

Keith Carradine’s portrayal brought Rogers to life — his years in vaudeville and radio, his common sense approach to life, his wife, his politics and witticisms, and his love and support for the then fledgling aviation industry.

I used to listen to the musical’s soundtrack in my car driving back and forth to work…back when I had a car and actually worked in an office.  It has amazing energy and lyrics — perfect ‘pick-me-up’ music.

Who needs a car?  I’m gonna listen to Will today.

It is August 15th.

Rise

On February 15, 1961, Sabena Flight 548 crashed en route to Brussels from New York City.  The entire United States Figure Skating team was on board en route to the 1961 World Championships in Prague, Czechoslovakia.

There were no survivors.

Since this happened before I was born, I have no memories of the crash, or of the Championships being canceled due to the overwhelming impact of the catastrophe on the sport.

My first memories — sketchy at best at age five — are of Peggy Fleming winning a gold medal at the Winter Olympics in 1968.  (Tim Wood won a silver medal as well.)

Knowing now that the US team lost all its skaters and coaches a mere seven years before makes these accomplishes even more incredible than they already are.

Tonight I’m going to learn more about the history of the 1961 US World Figure Skating Team — and the teams that have come after them — in a live event being broadcast from New York City to theatres across the country.

Rise commemorates the 50th anniversary of the plane crash that claimed the lives of the 1961 US World Figure Skating Team.  Matt Lauer hosts the event, and several biggies from figure skating are scheduled to appear.  Proceeds from ticket sales will be used to further the mission of US Figure Skating’s Memorial Fund, which was established on February 23, 1961, as a living legacy of those who lost their lives.

If you love figure skating like I do, and are interested in learning more about the history of the sport, join me at a theatre near you!

Rise will have an encore showing in theatres nationwide on Monday, March 7th.  Visit www.rise1961.com for details.