Pickin’ Up Blood Vibrations

Remember the Beach Boys? I passed up a chance to see Brian Wilson Friday night at a local venue, due to a persistent and stubborn cough I’ve had for 4 weeks! I heard it was a great show. Music defies the ages, and unites people from different backgrounds, countries, languages, and ages. I myself can play the piano and learned classical piano, but have never deviated from what’s on the written page. I truly admire those who create music. It is a gift.

And so I’m thrilled to announce that the talented artists at “Blood Vibrations” have released another Blood Vibrations album!  The music debuted last fall at the Blood Vibrations Listening Center as part of the Blood Work exhibition by FOLX (Justin Levesque) during the National Hemophilia Foundation Bleeding Disorders Conference in Anaheim. 

And true to being artists, there continues to be no money involved in the project. Blood Vibrations does not request or accept funding and they do not charge artists to submit work or people to stream the music. The artists are all connected to the bleeding disorder community. And some of their songs are amazing! They express their experiences, joy and pain through music.

You can, too. Contact Billy at Blood Vibrations and learn how to submit your recording!

Listen to Blood Vibrations: 8 (Blood Work Mixtape) now… with new sounds & visions from folks in the bleeding disorders community. This latest release in the series features an album cover by: Kennet Kaare and music by 

Bleeder, Campbell Hunter, Chayse Pannell, Cleaven Pagani, Creature-blossom, Joseph Burke, Jphono1, Kappa, Louisville Lip, Morgue’s Last Choice, North Elementary, Second Autumn, Sepsis and Synthetic Division

The Factors Within Album at

Spread the good news near and far! Submissions are accepted for future releases on an ongoing basis at

The Day the Music Cried

Today is the 60th anniversary of what was dubbed “The Day the Music Died,” by singer Don McClean in the song “American Pie.” The day that singer Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper died in a plane crash in an Iowa cornfield at 1 am on a frigid morning, after performing at the Surf Ballroom. Besides the song immortalizing the young men, the movie “The Buddy Holly Story” commemorates the life of Buddy Holly, who was surely one of the most amazing and talented rising stars in his time. Great movie, with Buddy Holly spectacularly played by actor Gary Busey.

I recently watched the movie, and then read a biography on Buddy. He is undoubtedly one of my favorite musicians in rock. His talent cannot be overstated. When he died at age 22 in the crash, he was already a global sensation. He wrote and performed 50 songs, with the blockbuster “Peggy Sue” often dubbed as one of rock’s great songs. (In 1999, the song made it on the NPR 100, a list of the 100 Most Important American Musical Works of the 20th Century”) Buddy traveled the world, visiting Australia and England, where he was revered. When he performed in England, a 15-year-old Bob Dylan watched him in awe from the audience, as did a young group called the Quarrymen (later The Beatles). They were mesmerized that someone like them—a young man— could make it so big. That he wrote his own songs (singers and performers usually didn’t do that then; Elvis sure didn’t). That he started getting into production of his music. That he couldn’t even read music! His talents were natural and sharp. He created a new genre—rockabilly, combining the country-western style of his home state Texas with leading edge rock and roll.



His band was called the Crickets; different tales speculate on the origin of the name but for sure, if you listen to the song “I’m Gonna Love You Too,” you will hear a cricket chirping at the end of the track. One was in the studio and they couldn’t silence it. And it’s also true that the name the Crickets inspired another band, called the Beatles. Paul McCartney is quoted as saying, “If there hadn’t been a Buddy Holly, there would have been no Beatles.” The British group the Hollies are named for him. Weezer has a song called “Buddy Holly.” The Rolling Stones first US hit was a cover: “Fade Away” by Buddy Holly. And the Quarrymen (Beatles) first ever 45 was “That’ll Be the Day.”

Holly went on to inspire musicians for years and decades after his death. When you think of his brief life, and realize there was an amazingly small window of only 18 months from when he emerged on the music scene till his death, it’s absolutely incredible what he accomplished. And he was mentoring a young and struggling musician named Waylon Jennings, who was performing with them the night of the crash. Waylon gave up his seat to the Big Bopper (J.P. Richardson), who was suffering from the flu. None of the young men wanted to travel in the old school bus that kept breaking down, with no heat, another 10 hours to Minneapolis in the cold. Buddy chartered the plane. Waylon would suffer survivor guilt for years afterwards. The plane crashed within minutes of take off at 1 am. All four people on board were killed instantly.

The movie, often dubbed “The Buddy Hollywood Story,” is not terribly accurate. Paul McCartney, a huge fan, made a documentary about Buddy Holly, after the first movie, to set the record straight. (And he bought the entire catalogue of Buddy Holly songs.) Unlike how he is portrayed in the movie, Buddy wasn’t arrogant, never tried to punch anyone. As a Texan Baptist he was polite, and incredibly creative.



What does all this have to do with hemophilia? Nothing, except our community has so many young talented musicians, waiting for their chance. Buddy’s story is inspiring—I highly recommend reading Buddy Holly: A Biography by Ellis Amburn. And listen to his music: it’s magical, uplifting, clever, innovative. Buddy made it cool to wear glasses (John Lennon, very visually challenged, took to wearing his specs on stage after seeing Buddy). Buddy made it cool to look like a geek and be a star. He never doubted himself a second, and I hope our young stars never do either.

Dust off your guitar and send your music to Blood Vibrations (, a group from our community, which will promote your music on their website and in their album. They’re waiting for you.

And Rave On!

Hemophilia Notes

Music is figuring prominently in the movies lately: A Star is Born, the third remake with Lady GaGa and Bradley Cooper, is a musically and emotionally rich film about how success changes people. Bohemian Rhapsody… need I say anything at all? A biopic about the irreplaceable and eternal Freddie Mercury, who has frequently been rated as having one of the greatest voices in rock history and who created one of the often-rated top 10 rock songs of all time. He’s my second favorite singer (Jim Morrison of the Doors being first).

Music has long been an art form to express emotions and thoughts that are not easily given to words. Music is so tied to emotions that many of us can hear a song, and remember a place or event that happened when we first heard it. It taps a different part of our brain than reading; it can express feelings that we cannot put into words, unless a verse accompanied by music.

For example, “Love of My Life” was Freddie Mercury’s favorite song, according to one biography, because despite his fame, he often felt alone and mistrusted many people around him.

The bleeding disorder community also has its own music, designed to give a voice to feelings that are not easily expressed. Sometimes music with lyrics, sometimes just music. Blood Vibrations is an on-going, grassroots collaboration with various talented artists in the community, to provide a forum for creativity, expression and learning. With songs like “I Am Alone,” “Everybody Counts,” “Patience is a Virtue,” “Alone,” you can see there are some deep feelings to explore and share. Pain and suffering are often doorways to these deep feelings and dark thoughts, and music is one way to relieve and process these. The artists may even be people you know, like Jenny Massey, Kevin Finkle and Jozef Zwier, though many are using pseudonyms, like Cell Division and Bleeder. Listen to their songs, and understand bleeding disorders more. I write books on hemophilia, but there is great value in hearing music about it.

I love music; I am picking up my piano again, after a 5-year hiatus, inspired by these artists. I play classical piano but am also attending a Metallica concert tomorrow in Raleigh, North Carolina. Music has many voices, all valid! If you haven’t listened to Metallica, I would recommend them. When I heard “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” I could have sworn I heard Bach fugues in it. Sure enough, reading their bio, I learned that the late bassist Cliff Burton studied Bach. He died at age 24 in 1986 in a bus accident, but the band survived and remains a top draw in heavy metal.

Read about music too. I love bios about musicians, to learn what inspired them, how they crafted their songs, what paths their lives took to get them where they are.

My favorite rock bios: Life, by Keith Richards (Rolling Stones)— the best. Intelligently written, brilliant and funny. Weaves music theory into explaining why the Stones were so successful with their music, and who influenced them. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen—it was a long road with many hardships and lessons to become someone who I think is the hardest working person in rock. The Paths We Choose by Sully Erna (Godsmack)—expelled from preschool for fighting, Sully only hit fame when he trusted his gut instinct and struck out on his own, and oddly, didn’t think he could sing. Mercury and Me by Jim Hutton—the movie took a lot of liberties with Freddie’s life; this one tries to balance out factor and fiction from the viewpoint of Freddie’s partner at the end of his life. No One Here Gets Out Alive: the Biography of Jim Morrison by Danny

Sugarman and Jerry Hopkins—This one doesn’t have a happy ending, but it documents the rise and fall of the 1960s great rock band, their influence and the sad outcome of one of the greatest front men, and poets, in rock.

For fun? Slash by Slash and Dancing with Myself by Billy Idol. Hey, why not?

Explore music. Which is your favorite genre? Band? Singer? Writer? Why? What one song moves you like no other? Music unites like almost no other art form. I will see that for myself when I disappear into a crowd of 50,000 tomorrow, all singing with, cheering at and feeling the power that is Metallica.


Explore Blood Vibrations too. You too can submit a song; it doesn’t even have to be about a bleeding disorder. Send to

I’ll be waiting to hear it!

  Long Live Rock!




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