Shoes' Harrowing Connection To One Of The Worst Plane Crashes In U.S. History!

Shoes' unlikely connection to one of America's worst plane crashes.

Most reading this are probably quite familiar with the handful of famous rock stars killed in horrific plane or helicopter accidents. The most well-known of all is the 1959 plane crash that claimed the lives of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper. A close second would be the helicopter crash that saw Stevie Ray Vaughan and three members of Eric Clapton's tour entourage perish after a concert at nearby Alpine Valley Music Theatre.

What many don't know is how close a now-legendary local rock act came to joining that list on May 25, 1979.

That was the fateful day that American Airlines flight 191 took off from O'Hare Airport and, mere seconds later, crashed near a trailer park at the end of the runway, killing all passengers and crew (271 in total).

How one of America's worst plane crashes almost claimed the lives of Chicago-area band Shoes
The band in question, Shoes, had been scheduled to fly to L.A. for a photo shoot for their first major label album, Present Tense.

In a 2012 interview with a local radio station, band leader Jeff Murphy recalled that, because of the Memorial Day weekend, the band's label contacted the band the night before the flight to inform them that they had taken it upon themselves to reschedule the band's flight for the next Tuesday.

As Murphy explains, "We were furious with them because how can you just, last minute, change us like that? We literally have our suitcases packed." By Friday afternoon, however, the band members no doubt felt a huge sense of relief that things had not gone as planned.

While record company shenanigans have killed the careers of many a rock band over the years, this has to be one of those rare instances where such meddling actually benefited the band. While the label in question, Elektra Records, never did seem to know what to do with the band once they'd signed them, it's hard to be mad at a label whose desire to take full advantage of a long holiday weekend ultimately saved the bandmembers' lives.

As someone who has derived much enjoyment from the band's music over the years and watched as Jeff Murphy's talents as producer have helped bands like Material Issue achieve greater success, I remain greatly appreciative for whatever forced led the members of Shoes to not be on that plane. It is a stunning reminder of just how fragile life truly is and how tomorrow is promised to no one.

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