The Iridium will transport music fans to 1959 this month by way of a performance honoring "The Day The Music Died" that will merge history, storytelling and rock and roll.
The jazz club will host a tribute show, “The Night the Music Lived” on Jan. 31 to honor the 60th anniversary of the last concert performed by Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson before the musicians’ fatal plane crash on Feb. 3, 1959.
"The Night the Music Lived" comes to Iridium after first being performed in 2012 at a small club in New Jersey. The show soon moved to the B.B. King’s Blues Club in Manhattan later that year. After performing at the club for several years — and undergoing a brief hiatus after its closure in April 2018 — director and performer Todd Meredith describes the return of the tribute show as the “perfect timing” in honor of the historic event.
Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper "will perform together at times," says Meredith, 35, the creative force behind the show, and who’s taking to the stage as Buddy Holly. "They each get their own set and we do some Chuck Berry [and] some Little Richard as well."
Previewing the anniversary show, the Barnegat, New Jersey-based performer adds: “Any fan of that type of music is going to have a blast and they’re going to learn a little bit as well because we tell stories in between songs about what happened that fateful night. It’s just going to be a great celebration of rock and roll music and 1950s rock and roll.”
After putting together a few tribute shows honoring Buddy Holly, Meredith grew inspired by the final act, which depicted the last concert in Clear Lake, Iowa, featuring the three musicians. After hours of research and drawing inspiration from “The Day The Music Died” by Larry Lehmer, Meredith wrote the script and realized the show in a matter of months.
“I wanted to give an audience a longer version of that part of the show because that’s always been my favorite part,” says Meredith. “It’s a lot of fun and I think there’s a lot of the songs in there that are missed in the musical that we get to play now.”
Performing classics such as "That’ll Be The Day," "Peggy Sue" and "It’s So Easy," Meredith will be joined by John Rodriguez as Ritchie Valens, Chuck Caruso as The Big Bopper, the Rockabilly band the Rave-Ons as well as other special guests.
“Maybe people who aren’t as familiar with music from that time period will hopefully help people come out and listen to his story and really get inspired to get out the music,” he says. “That’s what it’s all about — this is all about the music.”
Tickets ($20-$35) for “The Night the Music Lived” are available via TheIridium.com or The Iridium box office at (212)-582-2121.