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Coo Coo Daddy Long Legs

Buddy "The Hanged Man" Holly
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OKLAHOMA CITY – A week or so after visiting the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa – and later visiting the actual crash site of the plane that went down carrying Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper (J.P. Richardson) – it seems that Buddy Holly’s ghost is caught up in our Dust Devil Dreams, just as he was in John Gorka's "Holed Up Mason City," the song I heard soon after passing the Mason City Municipal Airport where they took off Feb. 3, 1959.

A few nights after catching a show by Igor & Red Elvises (a group that appeared in the indie film Six-String Samurai, featuring a Buddy Holly-like, samurai-wielding hero), I learn of the death of Rik Mayall, the British comic actor who starred as “Rick” in the hit BBC program The Young Ones, back in the early-to-mid 1980’s. The cause of death is said to be a heart attack.

Rewatching those early episodes of The Young Ones, I was struck by the second episode in the first season in fall 1982. It was called “Oil” and the lads end up moving into a new-yet-run down home. As they choose their new bedrooms, Mike (Christopher Ryan) sees a man with a guitar hanging from the ceiling. (Here's the clip from YouTube.)

“You’re Buddy Holly,” Mike says, smiling with surprise.

“That’s right, I just love your English beetles (Beatles?) Mind ya, after 20 years of the suckers, I ain’t got much choice,” Buddy says, chomping on a bug.

Buddy, hanging upside-down (the Hanged Man?) is holding his Fender Stratocaster (Jonathan Richman gets it!), caught up in parachute webbing and smiling, clearly identifiable as the doomed 50’s rock star.

“I thought you were dead!” Mike says looking at the singer who, as one person told me, looked like Rik Mayall. Was it him? It's not clear. 

“A lot of folks did, but it ain’t harmed my career any (hee hee),” Buddy replies.

Mike proceeds to ask Buddy if he has any new material. Considering his “bug-only” diet, Buddy says the song is called “Coo Coo Daddy Long Legs.”

Hanging upside-down, of course, Buddy plays the rockabilly song with that classic Buddy sound. Eating spiders seemed to be the order of the day in the Young Ones' new flat.

Sings Buddy: “Twenty-three years on a meat-free diet / Beetles, crickets, gonna get you sickets / Here’s a little sucker and you ought to try it …” Ah! 23! The age Buddy Holly did not reach.

The hanging man then falls to the floor – clearly dead. And Mike ends up taking the “stiff” down to the basement. Is there a "bright side of down," as John Gorka might ask?

We do know that the late Joe Meek (producer of the Honeycombs, Tornadoes and others) predicted Buddy Holly's death and said Buddy appeared to him in dreams. Mysteries and scandals surround Buddy Holly's death. And just as Igor of Red Elvises says that Elvis himself appeared to him in a dream and told him to start Red Elvises, the Red Elvises also appeared in Six-String Samurai featuring a Buddy Holly-look-alike.

Here's a band called The Cheats doing a cover of "Coo Coo Daddy Long Legs." And here are A Couple of Squirts doing a version of the song as well. Check out the fleshed-out lyrics. 

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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