"Sorry don't get it done, Dude."
-- John T. Chance (John Wayne) to Dude (Dean Martin) in "Rio Bravo"


As with "King Creole" in 1958, one of my most enduring memories of 1959 is a movie. This time it's "Rio Bravo" starring John Wayne, Dean Martin and Angie Dickinson. Again, I can remember seeing this movie for the first time at the drive-in, taken by my older sister. I was excited to see the movie as it had a lot of people I would have recognized from television. Ward Bond from "Wagon Train," John Russell from "Lawman," Walter Brennan from "The Real McCoys" and of course, Ricky Nelson. The movie is about a sheriff (Wayne) trying to keep a powerful cattle man's (Russell) son from being broken out of jail. He's assisted by "Stumpy" (Brennan) and "Dude" (Martin) who is a broken down former law man who was done wrong by a woman and still hasn't crawled out of his bottle -- he's the "town drunk." And while this is all going on, Angie Dickinson is in town, running from a suspect past. Of course Wayne falls for Dickinson and there are lots of gun battles. It's still one of my favorite westerns. One great scene has Wayne, Martin, Brennan and Nelson all hanging out in the jail and of course (with Martin and Nelson there wasn't it inevitable?) they sing (not Wayne). There were two songs, "Cindy" in which Brennan joins in on harmonica, and "My Rifle, My Pony and Me" with Nelson joining Martin on the vocals. It was a pleasant break from the action.,

This was one of Ricky Nelson's few movie credits and in subsequent years I would buy an anthology album of Nelson's songs -- a 1970s version of the cd "boxed set." On it was a cut, "Restless Gun" which he sang for the movie, but was never included in the picture.

Of course the other big event of 1959 was the plane crash in Iowa that took the lives of Holly, Valens and Richardson. I don't actually remember the event but I do remember my sister talking about it. Shortly after the tragedy, Tommy Dee (a disk jockey) put out a record, "The Three Stars." It's kind of a shmaltzy tribute to the three fallen "stars." Eddie Cochran is said to have recorded it, but there were technical difficulties with the recording and Cochran reportedly broke down in tears several times during the recording (he had toured with Holly). And while I don't remember the crash, I do remember owning a 45 of "The Three Stars." I'm not necessarily bragging about that.

By 1959 I owned my own record player -- it was one of those small ones that folded into a case. The 45's I remember from those days are "Sorry (I Ran All the Way Home)" by the Impalas and Frankie Avalon's "A Boy Without a Girl." Of the great songs of 1959, why I would have those, I can't figure.

The other great event in my music life of 1959 was dancing. In the fall of 1959 I entered junior high -- a significant event in the life of every American. I don't know how, but I suspect a flyer sent out at school and a group of concerned moms that their sons be properly trained to enter adolescence found me enrolled in a dance school -- I believe it was "Dick Anderson's School of Dance." It was located in a commercial building (basement) not far from our residential neighborhood (we could walk there). Along with a group of my neighborhood friends, we enrolled. We were taught (without much success) the waltz and the fox trot among others. But what we really learned was the cha-cha (which was a current rage on Bandstand) and swing dancing. Many of the great songs of 1959 I remember from those dance lessons, especially "Mack the Knife," "Stagger Lee," and "Kansas City." I can remember standing still, getting ready to go into my moves as Lloyd Price crooned, "The night was clear and the moon was yellow, and the leaves came tumbling down," and then start dancing. This was all great preparation for my first junior high dances (7th grade) which consisted mostly of standing around by the wall of the lunchroom trying to work up enough courage to actually ask a girl to dance. (At the dance school we were usually assigned a partner). But I remember actually (finally) applying those learned skills the next spring -- it was to the 1960 Brenda Lee song, "Sweet Nothin's." But I guess that belongs more in the 1960 "Perspectives."
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