3A Change of Underwear Changes Music
In 1959, Rock 'n' Roll pioneer Buddy Holly boarded a plane with popular musicians Ritchie Valens and JP "The Big Bopper" Richardson. If you've heard the song "American Pie" you know what happened next: the plane climbs high into the night, Satan begins laughing with delight, nobody takes this to be a red flag because the 50s were a more innocent time, the plane crashes, music dies.
The Arbitrary Reasons:
The events leading up to the accident that killed three of the earliest pioneers in rock stardom are full of coincidences, misfortunes and last minute changes; but everything can be traced back to Buddy Holly's hard-on for clean underwear.
After the organizers added a last minute date on February 2 (which meant a lot more traveling and a lot more freezing their asses off--maybe literally), Holly began feeling frustrated. He'd been wearing the same outfit since the beginning of the tour and had run out of clean underpants. And as many rock musicians would go on to prove, it is impossible to play a decent Rock 'n' Roll show if you don't have clean undies.
White as snow and soft like mother's love.
The local laundromat happened to be closed that day, so Holly suggested he and his band charter a plane to get to the next city early and wash everyone's clothes there. Deciding it wasn't happy with murdering just one headliner, fate intervened and Buddy's bassist kindly ceded his seat to Big Bopper Richardson, who had the flu. Meanwhile, Ritchie Valens realized he'd never seen the inside of a small plane and asked Buddy's guitarist to give up his seat too. The guitarist agreed to flip a coin for it and Valens won.
"Wow, it's like a normal plane, only smaller. Well this was worth it."
When Buddy found out his bassist Waylon Jennings wasn't going to be on the plane, he said to him: "Well, I hope your ol' bus freezes up." Jennings ominously replied: "Well, I hope your ol' plane crashes." A clap of thunder was heard in the background.
The World-Changing Consequences:
Due to a combination of adverse weather conditions, inadequate forecast reports and the pilot's inexperience with certain flying instruments, the plane crashed a few minutes after taking off, abruptly ending three promising careers in rock music and one in charter plane aviation. Buddy Holly had been recording for only 16 months and Ritchie Valens for 10, while Richardson had made the jump from DJ to performer around six months prior and already had two hits.
Buddy Holly in particular was considered an innovative genius whose ambition was only growing. Many argue that his death prevented him from taking rock music places that it wouldn't go for years. For instance, much of modern Rock 'n' Roll music is derived from his (at the time) experimental use of the recording studio.
Of course there are those who believe he would have been forgotten within two years if he hadn't died. After all, who knows what artists would be remembered as visionaries today if they had died after their biggest hit?
November 4, 1990. Vanilla Ice chokes on a potato chip. Never forget.
But that hypothetical scenario might have changed the face of modern music even more. Buddy Holly's death had a deep impact on the entire generation of musicians that replaced him: Bob Dylan saw Holly perform two days before the accident and would always claim to be personally affected by his death, The Rolling Stones were big fans and The Beatles named themselves after his band The Crickets and recorded several of his songs.
Whether you believe Holly was a genius or just another rock star overrated because he died young, the music world would look completely different today had Holly brought an extra change of underwear on tour.
2The Motion Picture Was Invented on a Bet
Before Thomas Edison or the Brothers Lumiere, the first guy to ever shoot consecutive images and show them in motion was Eadward Muybridge, who called his invention by the slightly less catchy name of zoopraxiscope.
The development of the zoopraxiscope took Muybridge almost 10 years and was delayed by a complicated personal situation (namely his wife being boned by another dude), but his love of science was stronger than any obstacle and he continued trying until he achieved his objective.
The Arbitrary Reasons:
Did we say his love of science? We meant his love of money. Muybridge and his world changing invention were just pawns in a larger, more complex mission to settle what is without question the stupidest bet of all time.
He was employed by Leland Stanford, the former governor of California, who was apparently a very bored man. He was also very rich; a dangerous combination. Leland was a bit of a horse enthusiast and, in 1872, he took part in a high-stakes bet that sought to solve the age-old mystery: Do all the legs of a horse stop touching the ground at some point during a gallop? A firm believer that horses could for one brief instant fly, Leland offered Muybridge $25,000 to prove this to be true. He didn't care how he did it. He just wanted a picture of a floating horse, damn it.
The existence of the bet has been disputed by film historians, but they all agree that Leland did indeed pay a large amount of money to Muybridge to photograph a horse with its hooves in the air. In fact, the whole endeavor seems even more ridiculous and pointless if there was no bet involved.
Leland was so obsessed with finding the answer that, when his inventor Muybridge murdered his wife's lover, he even paid for his legal defense, ensuring that he was acquitted and could get back to the horse photographing.
The World-Changing Consequences:
Muybridge's work turned out to be instrumental to the creation of cinema. He developed a new method of fast photography for the sole purpose of catching a horse mid-gallop, and later set automatic cameras all over the side of a racetrack to capture every stage of the horse's movement. Later, he created the zoopraxiscope so he could project these images in sequence, thereby producing the first ever motion picture.
Around the same time, famed inventor and Cracked arch-enemy Thomas Alva Edison had created the phonograph. When Edison witnessed the zoopraxiscope in action, Muybridge approached him to discuss the possibility of joining their two inventions to make movies with picture and sound (about 40 years before this was actually achieved). Edison said, "No thanks," and then proceeded to copy Muybridge's invention and market it as the much more popular kinetograph.
One day we'll get you, Edison. We don't know when or even how, but we will.