Presty the DJ for Feb. 3

Today in 1959, a few hours after their concert at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson got on a Beechcraft Bonanza in Mason City, Iowa, to fly to Fargo, N.D., for a concert in Moorhead, Minn.

The trio, along with Dion and the Belmonts, were part of the Winter Dance Party Tour, a 24-city tour over three weeks, with its ridiculously scheduled tour dates connected by bus.

Said bus, whose heater broke early in the tour, froze in below-zero temperatures two nights earlier between the scheduled concert in the Duluth, Minn., National Guard Armory, and the next scheduled location, the Riverside Ballroom in Green Bay.

Holly’s drummer had to be hospitalized with frostbite in his feet, and Valens also became ill. The tour got to Green Bay, but its scheduled concert in Appleton that evening was canceled.

After the concert in Clear Lake, Holly decided to rent an airplane. Holly’s bass player, Waylon Jennings, gave his seat to the Big Bopper because he was sick, and Valens won a coin flip with Holly’s guitarist, Tommy Allsup. Dion DiMucci chose not to take a seat because the $36 cost equaled his parents’ monthly rent.

As he was leaving, Holly told Jennings, “I hope your ol’ bus freezes up,” to which Jennings replied, “Well, I hope your ol’ plane crashes!”

Shortly after the 12:55 a.m. takeoff, the plane crashed, instantly killing Holly, Valens, the Big Bopper and the pilot.

The scheduled concert that evening went on, with organizers recruiting a 15-year-old, Robert Velline, and his band the Shadows. Bobby Vee went on to have a good career. So did a teenager in the audience, Robert Zimmerman of Hibbing, Minn., who became known a few years later as Bob Dylan.


The number one single today in 1968:

The number one single today in 1973:

The number one album today in 1979 was the Blues Brothers’ “Briefcase Full of Blues”:

Birthdays begin with one of Dion’s Belmonts, Angelo D’Aleo:

Dennis Edwards of the Temptations:

Eric Haydock played bass for the Hollies:

Dave Davies of the Kinks:

Two-hit wonder Melanie Safka:

Tony Butler played bass for Big Country:

Lol Tolhurst played keyboards for the Cure:

Who is Richie Kotzen? You know him as Mr. Big, whose career really wasn’t, having one hit:


Presty the DJ for Feb. 2

First, to continue a decades-long tradition: It’s a great day for groundhogs. Unless they see their shadow and predict six more weeks of winter, in which case they should be turned into ground groundhog.

(Back when I had radio ambitions, I came up with the idea of having a live remote from Sun Prairie where Jimmy the Groundhog would see his shadow and predict six more weeks of winter, then return to the station, only to dramatically go back to Sun Prairie to breathlessly report that someone assassinated Jimmy the Groundhog. It would work with Punxsutawney Phil too.)

Today in 1959, Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper all appeared at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa.

That would be their final concert appearance because of what happened after the concert.

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Presty the DJ for Jan. 29

Today in 1942 premiered what now is the second longest running program in the history of radio — the BBC’s “Desert Island Discs”:

What’s the longest running program in the history of radio? The Grand Ole Opry.

Today in 1968, the Doors appeared at the Pussy Cat a Go Go in Las Vegas. After the show, Jim Morrison pretended to light up a marijuana cigarette outside. The resulting fight with a security guard concluded with Morrison’s arrest for vagancy, public drunkenness, and failure to possess identification.

The number one British single today in 1969 was its only British number one:

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Presty the DJ for Jan. 28

Today in 1956, Elvis Presley made his first national TV appearance on, of all places, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey’s “Stage Show” on CBS.

The number one album on both sides of the Atlantic today in 1978 was Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours”:

The number one single today in 1984 was banned by the BBC, which probably helped it stay on the charts for 48 weeks:

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The Bananavette

Growing up I was a religious reader of car magazines — first Motor Trend, then Hot Rod, then Car and Craft. The former rarely had anything bad to say about cars it reviewed (and was rumored to have based its Car of the Year picks on advertising money spent); the other two were about modified cars.

One of those modified cars that caught my eye was this …

… explained by Corvette Blogger:

“The Big Banana” is ready to peel off again.

This heavily modified 1968 Corvette convertible was featured in a series of build articles in Car Craft Magazine from November 1975 through August 1976 and definitely stands out in a crowd with its IMSA-style widened fenders and adjustable rear deck spoiler.

Now after three years of extensive refurbishing by the current owner, it’s being offered on Bring a Trailer …

Since the new owner acquired it in 2018, this custom Stingray has been repainted in a bright shade of yellow with orange and brown stripes by Butch Brinza of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the 383 stroker V8 engine with a Holley carburetor and Edelbrock intake manifold was rebuilt last year.

The seller also has rebuilt the power-assisted four-wheel disc brakes and three-speed TH400 automatic transmission, replaced the shocks, wiring harness, radiator, various belts and hoses, windshield wiper motor, and exhaust, recharged the air conditioning, and changed the oil in July.

Other features of the car include a black soft top, front and rear independent suspension, 3.08:1 differential, 15-inch American Racing wheels, power steering, and vintage-look AM/FM stereo.

Proof that this is indeed “The Big Banana” is provided by a plaque still present in the engine bay, along with magazine articles spotlighting this one-of-a-kind Corvette and how it was built. The new owner will also get two replica Hot Wheels toys and refurbishment records.

Bring a Trailer added before it sold for apparently $28,000:

This 1968 Chevrolet Corvette convertible is finished in yellow with brown and orange striping and was modified with widened bodywork as part of a build series featured in consecutive Car Craft Magazine issues between November 1975 and August 1976. Nicknamed “The Big Banana”, the car was acquired by the seller in October 2018 and refurbished over the following three years with work including repainting the body, rebuilding the 383ci stroker V8 and three-speed automatic transmission, and refreshing the brakes, suspension, and air conditioning. Additional equipment includes a black soft top, a 3.08:1 differential, 15″ American Racing wheels, four-wheel disc brakes, power steering, an adjustable rear deck spoiler, fender vents, air conditioning, power windows, and a vintage-look AM/FM stereo. This modified C3 Corvette is now offered in California with magazine articles featuring the car and build process, spare keys, refurbishment records, spare parts, two replica Hot Wheels toys, and an Arizona title in the seller’s name.

The fiberglass bodywork was modified with IMSA-style widened fenders and an adjustable rear deck spoiler as part of a build featured in Car Craft Magazine in the late 1970s. The car was repainted in yellow with orange and brown stripes by Butch Brinza of Milwaukee, Wisconsin as part of a refurbishment completed in 2021. Exterior equipment includes a black soft top, cowl-induction hood, driver-side mirror, concealed headlights, fender vents, and a dual exhaust system. The seller states that the windshield wiper motor was replaced under current ownership.

The 15″ American Racing 200S wheels measure 10″ wide up front, 12″ wide out back, and wear Hankook Ventus tires measuring 265/50 and 295/50, respectively. The car is equipped with front and rear independent suspension along with power steering. Work completed as part of the refurbishment reportedly included rebuilding the power-assisted four-wheel disc brakes and replacing the shocks.

The cabin is trimmed in black vinyl upholstery and features lap belts, air conditioning, a console-mounted gear selector, power windows, sun visors, and a Corvette-branded vintage-look AM/FM radio with an auxiliary input. Replacement air conditioning components were installed as part of the refurbishment, and the air conditioning was recharged in July 2022.

The three-spoke steering wheel is mounted to a tilting column and fronts a 160-mph speedometer and a 7k-rpm tachometer along with an analog clock and auxiliary gauges in the center stack. The clock does not work. The five-digit odometer shows under 45k miles, approximately 2,500 of which were added under current ownership. Total mileage is unknown.

The 383ci stroker V8 was rebuilt in 2021 and is equipped with a Holley carburetor and Edelbrock intake manifold. Additional work completed at that time is said to have consisted of replacing the wiring harness and radiator along with various belts and hoses. The oil was changed in July 2022.

Power is sent to the rear wheels through a three-speed TH400 automatic transmission and a 3.08:1 differential. The transmission was rebuilt, and the exhaust was replaced under current ownership. …

Various magazines featuring the car and build process are included in the sale and shown in the gallery along with included spare parts and memorabilia.

Among the numerous modifications is the 1974–77-style rear end (with the 5-mph bumpers, which scandalized the owner of the first Corvette I remember seeing, a neighbor down the street) and a later-than-’68 steering column. How do I know that?

The 1968 Corvette was the only C3 to have its ignition switch on the instrument panel. In 1969 GM moved all car ignition switches (except for the Corvair, which was about to die) to the new locking steering column, one year ahead of the federal mandate. Notice through the steering column where the ignition switch is.

The Car Craft story I saw also noted that the sound system had a PA microphone added, which fascinated me for some reason.

This is the sort of thing I thought was really cool when I read it, even though I had no concept of (1) how much these mods cost and (2) how what you spend on modding a car you never get back in its resale.

Motor Trend Online adds:

Petersen magazines got a lot of mileage (so to speak) out of this widebody Vette in 1976. “It’s big, yellow, goes like the devil and attracts oglers of both sexes and every age group,” wrote Chuck Nerpel in a feature Motor Trend published in the December 1976 issue. This story capped a year in which Car Craft magazine devoted nine issues to the buildup of the “CC Vett,” taking it from an auto theft victim to the “only Corvette of its kind in the world.”

The car belonged to CC publisher Steve Green, who spent years sketching and planning the dream machine he wanted to build. Once his ideas gelled, he sought a subject car and found what Nerpel described as “a stripped 1968 Vette that had found its way into a small junkyard as the result of a car theft insurance settlement.”

There wasn’t much to the wreck, apparently, but that was fine with Green, as he would completely rebuild the car. He was fortunate that the Vette came with a heavy-duty suspension, as that gave Dick Guldstrand a solid starting point to “work his magic” on the chassis. Along with heavy-duty shocks and a rear camber kit, the suspension required “special tuning to handle the extra-wide Firestone Parnelli Jones G50x15 front tires on 8-1/2-in. rims and N50x15 rear tires on 10-in. rims.”

The wide rear meats also posed a challenge when it came time to mount the IMSA-style fenders. “New Chevy IMSA wheel coverings were cast of fiberglass; then, with lots of grinding, cutting and fitting, they were blended into the body shell. The end result was a very smooth-looking treatment combining both function and distinctive styling without that added-on look,” wrote Nerpel.

The bulging hood covered a 350ci V-8 that was modified “to achieve the best performance possible and still have an engine flexible enough to drive comfortably in traffic or on the highway,” said Nerpel. After trying out a variety of induction systems, Green settled on an Edelbrock Torker intake manifold topped by a Carter Thermoquad 9800 carburetor, “which seems to be just the right combination. On a recent 1,200-mile vacation trip, cruising at near-legal speeds, Steve logged 15.5 to 16 mpg, not bad for a 3,600-lb roadster that does a 100-mph quarter mile in 14 sec.”

Inside, Green rode in Scheel bucket seats fitted with Simpson competition belts. Stewart-Warner gauges replaced all the stock instruments, while tunes (we wonder if Green was into K.C. and the Sunshine Band, or more of a Steve Miller guy) played through a Blaupunkt AM/FM/cassette system. A radar detector was mounted near the windshield; there’s an early mobile phone tucked between the seats; and, this being the 1970s, there’s a CB radio in there, too. Given the value of all these onboard electronics, Green invested in a “very sophisticated” alarm system that had its own power supply and was “hooked to a transmitter that signals a small beeper unit Steve carries with him whenever the car is left unattended.”

The Big Banana was an attention-grabber for sure, “truly a one-of-a-kind Corvette,” as Nerpel put it. Even in car-crazy Los Angeles, during the height of the bell-bottoms-and-polyester era, it would stand out wherever Green took it.

 This car not only piqued my interest in Corvettes, it piqued my interest in automotive journalism. I was a business magazine publisher once, but I didn’t own a Corvette then, before then or since then.

Presty the DJ for Jan. 26

The number one single in Great Britain today in 1961 included a Shakespearean reference:

Eight years later came the live version …

… which included, instead of “Do you gaze at your doorstep and picture me there,” Presley’s impromptu “Do you gaze at your bald head and wish you had hair.” Which prompted a front-row concertgoer to remove his toupee and start swaying to the music.

Then backup singer Cissy Houston, mother of Whitney and aunt of Dionne Warwick, cracked up Presley further with singing what she was supposed to sing. Afterward Presley said, “Fourteen years down the drain right there.”

Five years after Presley’s death, the live version reached Britain’s top 30.

The number one single today in 1965 included Jimmy Page, later of Led Zeppelin, on guitar:

Today in 1970, John Lennon wrote, recorded and mixed a song all in one day, which may have made it an instant song:

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