Buddy Holly (Originator/Pioneer/Set the standard for all Rock Groups)

Bt Gary:

“I will not fool around tonight. Let’s talk about one of the people who was on the scene for a very short time, but who really changed the face of Rock and Roll, in my opinion. He was and always will be one of my all time Favourite’s. At the end of this post we have added a special treat – a rare video of Buddy, the Crickets and Elvis, about 25 minutes in length.”

Buddy’s weapon of Choice

His group

Buddy (back row) with Jerry Allison, Joe B. Mauldin & Niki Sullivan (later replaced by Sonny West)

Charles Hardin Holley Born 9/7/36 Died in a plane crash 2/3/59 (the day the music died). His name was changed to Holly due to an error in a contract he was asked to sign. It was kept after that.


Now, because Buddy is such a favourite of mine, I will try and be respectful and give him the proper treatment from start to finish.


1. The Real Buddy

Ed Sullivan December 1, 1957/ That’ll be the Day/

The Ed Sullivan Show, January 26, 1958: This is such a legendary performance. Sullivan has Buddy’s guitar turned down because Buddy refused to take out the “all my life I’ve been waiting, tonight there’ll be no hesistatin” lyrics. Buddy goes out there, sings the part and still plays like a bad ass even with no sound from his guitar. This is an original bad ass right here! A true legend.

1957 / That’ll be the Day /

1958 / Oh Boy / Ed Sullivan /


Ed Sullivan / Peggy Sue

Arthur Murray’s Dance Party December 29, 1957


Movie: The Buddy Holly Story

Unquestionably, the Best performance in Gary Busey’s career, he actually sang and did some rhythm guitar work / The Apollo sequence /

Gary Busey playing the role of Buddy Holly


Rave On / Gary Busey / Buddy Holly Story /
It’s So Easy / Gary Busey / Buddy Holly Story /
Not Fade Away / Documentary /
1957 / The Entire Ed Sullivan performance /
The Apartment Tapes /
/ please go to YouTube as there are many tapes that are great, this is only one cut.


Buddy actually only placed 8 singles in the Billboard top 40, but he contributed so much more than what the Billboard charts tell you. He is still loved and admired today; he taught everyone what a Rock and Roll Group would look like: Lead Guitar, Rhythm Guitar, Bass and Drums.

I think a small group called the “Beatles” copied that and a group called the “Beach Boys” and so on… Both he and Dion used the new Fender Stratocaster and made it popular.

From what I have read he was definitely taken advantage of in Clovis New Mexico, by Norman Petty. Petty just did not write those songs, Buddy did, but that’s for others to decide.

Before we get to the short Biography lets go back to Lubbock Texas, Buddy’s garage for some recordings. Before we get to Billboard let’s take a look at his disaster in Nashville with Owen Bradley (who produced a lot of great people like Brenda Lee), to the Bradley Barn and the Decca disaster.

All Owen Bradley Produced…

1. Holly Hop/recorded in Buddy’s garage in 56 and then overdubbed/not released until 1969

2A. Blue Days/Decca 29854/Buddy vocal only/Sonny Curtis on lead4/16/56

2B. Love Me/B side/

3. Midnight Shift/Same recording date/ same musicians, Sonny, Don Guess on Bass/

4. Rock around with Ollie Vee/Sonny lead/Buddy vocals and rhythm/7/22/56

Billboard Top 40

(all recorded in Clovis New Mexico by Norman Petty)
All Brunswick recordings: “The Crickets”

/All Coral recordings: “Buddy”

1. That’ll be the day/Brunswick 55009/8/19/57/ # 1 Billboard

2. Peggy Sue/Coral 61885/11/11/57/ # 3 Billboard

3. Oh Boy/Brunswick 55035/12/2/57/ # 10 Billboard

4. Maybe Baby/Brunswick 55053/3/10/58/ # 8 Billboard (favourite)

5. Rave On/Coral/61985/6/9/58/ #37 Billboard (another favourite can’t believe it only made 37)

6. Think it Over/Brunswick 55072/8/4/58/ # 27 Billboard

7. Early in the Morning (Bobby Darin Song)/Coral 62006/8/11/58/ # 32 Billboard

8. It doesn’t matter anymore/Coral 62074/3/9/59/ # 13 Billboard

Now, as you may have noticed, a lot of these recordings where made in Clovis at one time or another, and released at later dates.

Here are some other recordings that no one ever plays, but they where all recorded in Clovis and I will give you the actual dates:

1. Not fade away/B side of Oh Boy/10/27/57

2. Everyday/B side of Peggy Sue/9/20/547

3. Reddy Teddy/2/20/58

4. Listen to me/Coral 61947/7/1/57

5. I’m Gonna Love you too/B side of Listen to me

6. Rock me my Baby/11/27/57

7. You’re so Square (baby I don’t care) Dec/57

8. Well…All Right (Gary’s absolute favourite!) Coral 62051/11/5/58

9. It’s So Easy/Brunswick 55094/9/12/58

10. Love’s made a fool of you/August/58

11. True Love Ways/10/20/58/ (one of Russ’s favs)

12. It doesn’t matter anymore (Paul Anka song)10/20/58

13. Raining in my Heart/10/20/58

I hope you have enjoyed my walk down memory lane with Buddy. I know that I have missed some, but I have covered what I think should be there. If you disagree, I do apologize, because I do want to treat this one with respect. Thank You, Buddy, for your great music in my teenage years!

Now for a little bit about Buddy History:

Although his success lasted only a year and a half before his death in an airplane crash, Holly is described by critic Bruce Eder as “the single most influential creative force in early rock and roll.” His works and innovations were copied by his contemporaries and later musicians, notably The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, and exerted a profound influence on popular music. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Holly #13 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.


Charles Hardin Holley was born in Lubbock, Texas to Lawrence Odell Holley and Ella Pauline Drake in 1936. The Holleys were a musical family and as a young boy Holley learned to play piano, guitar, fiddle and the violin (his brothers oiled the strings so much that no one could hear him play).

In 1949 Buddy cut a demo of Hank Snow’s ‘My Two-Timin’ Woman’ on a home tape recorder, his first known recording. During the fall of that year he met Bob Montgomery in Hutchinson Junior High School. They shared a common interest in music and soon teamed up as the duo “Buddy and Bob.”

Initially influenced by bluegrass music, they sang harmony duets at local clubs and high school talent shows. His musical interests grew throughout high school while singing in the Lubbock High School Choir.

Holly turned to rock music after seeing Elvis Presley sing live in Lubbock in early 1955. A few months later, he appeared on the same bill with Presley, also in Lubbock. Holly’s transition to rock was finalized when he opened for Bill Haley & His Comets at a local rock show organized by Eddie Crandall, who was also the manager for Marty Robbins.

As a result of this performance, Holly was offered a contract with Decca Records to work alone, which he accepted. According to the Amburn book (p. 45), his public name changed from “Holley” to “Holly” on February 8, 1956, when he signed the Decca contract.

An amazing conversation with Buddy Holly and a Decca official with Buddy trying to get his masters back after being dropped.

Among the tracks recorded for Decca was an early version of “That’ll Be The Day”, which took its title from a phrase that John Wayne’s character said repeatedly in the 1956 film, The Searchers.

Holly formed his own band, The Crickets and began making records at Norman Petty’s studios in Clovis, New Mexico. Norman had music industry contacts and believing that “That’ll Be the Day” would be a hit single, he contacted publishers and labels.

Coral Records, a subsidiary of Decca, signed Buddy Holly and The Crickets. This put Holly in the unusual position of having two record contracts at the same time. Before “That’ll Be The Day” had its nationwide release, Holly played lead guitar on the hit-single “Starlight”, recorded in April, 1957, featuring Jack Huddle. The initial, unsuccessful version of “That’ll Be The Day” played more slowly and about half an octave higher than the hit version.

Holly managed to bridge some of the racial divide that marked rock n’ roll music. While Elvis made black music more acceptable to whites, Holly won over an all-black audience when the Crickets were accidentally booked at New York’s Apollo Theater (though, unlike the immediate response depicted in the 1978 movie The Buddy Holly Story, it actually took several performances for his talents to be appreciated).

After the release of several highly successful songs, Holly and the Crickets toured the United Kingdom in 1958. That same year, he met Maria Elena Santiago (born 1935 in San Juan, Puerto Rico) while she was working as a receptionist for Peer-Southern Music, a New York music publisher. He proposed to her on their very first date. She initially thought he was kidding, but they were married in Lubbock, Texas on August 15, 1958, less than two months after they met. Maria traveled on some of the tours, doing everything from the laundry to equipment set-up to ensuring the group got paid.

The ambitious Buddy Holly became increasingly interested in the New York music/recording/publishing scene, while his easygoing band mates wanted to go back home to Lubbock. As a result, in 1959, the group split.


Holly began a solo tour with other notable performers, including Dion DiMucci, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson. One night after a performance in Green Bay, Wisconsin at the Riverside Ballroom, the three headliners gave a show at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa on February 2, 1959. Afterwards, Buddy Holly chartered a Beechcraft Bonanza to take him and his new back-up band (Tommy Allsup and Waylon Jennings) to Fargo, North Dakota, en route to play the next leg of the Winter Dance Party tour at the Armory in Moorhead, Minnesota. Carl Bunch missed the flight as he had been hospitalized with frostbite three days earlier. The Big Bopper asked Jennings for his spot on the four-seat plane, as he was recovering from the flu. Ritchie Valens was still signing autographs at the concert site when Allsup walked in and told him it was time to go. Allsup pulled a 50 cent coin out of his pocket and the two men flipped for the seat. Allsup lost.

The plane took off in light snow and gusty winds at around 12:55 A.M., but crashed after only a few minutes.

The wreckage was discovered several hours later by the plane’s owner, Jerry Dwyer, some 8 miles (13 km) from the airport on the property of Albert Juhl. The crash killed Holly, Valens, Richardson, and the 21-year-old pilot, Roger Peterson. Holly’s body, along with those of Valens and Richardson, was thrown from the wreckage. Holly and Valens lay 17 feet (5.2 m) south of the wreckage and Richardson was thrown around 40 feet (12 m) to the north of the wreckage. The pilot’s body remained in the wreckage. All had suffered severe and multiple injuries. Without any doubt, all had died on impact, with the plane hitting the ground at 170 mph (270 km/h). While theories abound as to the exact cause of the crash, an official determination of pilot error was rendered by the Civil Aeronautics Board.

Although the crash received a good deal of local coverage, it was displaced in the national news by an accident that occurred the same day in New York City, when American Airlines Flight 320 crashed during an instrument landing approach at LaGuardia Airport, killing 65.

Holly’s pregnant wife became a widow after barely six months of marriage and miscarried soon after.

Holly’s funeral services were held at 2:00 p.m., Saturday, February 7, 1959 at the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Lubbock under the direction of Sanders Funeral Home. His body was interred in the City of Lubbock Cemetery in the eastern part of the city. Holly’s headstone carries the correct spelling of his surname (Holley) and a carving of his Fender Stratocaster guitar.

Posthumous record releases

Buddy Holly’s music did not die with him. He had recorded so prolifically that his record label was able to release brand-new Buddy Holly albums and singles for 10 years after his death. Holly’s simple demonstration recordings were overdubbed by studio musicians, to bring them up to then-commercial standards. The best of these records is often considered to be the first posthumous single, the 1959 coupling of “Peggy Sue Got Married” and “Crying, Waiting, Hoping”, produced by Jack Hansen, with added backing vocals by the Ray Charles Singers in simulation of an authentic Crickets record. “Crying, Waiting, Hoping” was actually supposed to be the “A” side of the 45, with the backup group effectively echoing Buddy’s call-and-response vocal. The Hansen session, in which Holly’s last six original compositions were overdubbed, was issued on the 1960 Coral LP The Buddy Holly Story, Vol. 2’ ‘.

Buddy Holly statue on the Lubbock Walk of Fame

Buddy Holly continued to be promoted and sold as an “active” artist, and his records had a loyal following, especially in Europe. The demand for unissued Holly material was so great that Norman Petty resorted to overdubbing whatever he could find: alternate takes of studio recordings, originally rejected masters, “Crying, Waiting, Hoping” and the other five 1959 tracks (adding new surf-guitar arrangements), and even Holly’s amateur demos from 1954 (where the low-fidelity vocals are often muffled behind the new orchestrations). The last new Buddy Holly album was Giant (featuring the single, “Love Is Strange”), issued in 1969. Between the 1959-60 Jack Hansen overdubs, the 1960s Norman Petty overdubs, various alternate takes, and Holly’s undubbed originals, collectors can often choose from multiple versions of the same song.


Holly’s music was sophisticated for its day, including the use of instruments considered novel for rock and roll, such as the celesta (heard on “Everyday”). Holly was an influential lead and rhythm guitarist, notably on songs such as “Peggy Sue” and “Not Fade Away”. While Holly could pump out boy-loves-girl songs with the best of his contemporaries, other songs featured more sophisticated lyrics and more complex harmonies and melodies than had previously appeared in the genre.

Many of his songs feature a unique vocal “hiccup” technique, a glottal stop, to emphasize certain words in any given song, especially the rockers. Other singers (such as Elvis) have used a similar technique, though less obviously and consistently. Examples of this can be found at the start of the raucous “Rave On”: “Weh-eh-ell, the little things you say and do, make me want to be with you-ou…”; in “That’ll Be the Day”: “Well, you give me all your lovin’ and your -turtle dovin’…”; and in “Peggy Sue”: “I love you Peggy Sue – with a love so rare and tr-ue …” (lastfm)


Gary: “During the short career of Buddy Holly there were very few pictures or films taken.  This short film encompasses some of the earliest and rarest footage of Buddy, the Crickets and Elvis.”

See also: Richie Valens / The Big Bopper ~ The Day The Music Stopped


17 responses to “Buddy Holly (Originator/Pioneer/Set the standard for all Rock Groups)

  1. Great job on Buddy. Imagine: “Everyday” – with its brilliant key switch into the circle-of-fourths bridge was only a B side!! (Lots of fine covers of that one over the years.) I’m willing to bet the compositional construction of that song – fairly sophisticated for a rock song of the era – was an influence on the early songwriting of Lennon & McCartney who were HUGE Holly fans. Always loved the percussion on that tune too – played by Jerry Allison on his lap!

    I owned every Buddy Holly and every Crickets record by 1959. My favorite was Maybe Baby – with its wonderful background harmonies. (George Harrison paid a wonderful tribute to the opening melody of that song with the opening riff of “Here Comes the Sun.”) I tried to buy Maybe Baby (released by the Crickets) every day for a month in 1958 at Farrington’s Records in Arlington, Massachusetts. Each time the clerk would say, “Do you mean, ‘Maybe” by the Chantels?” I remember finally getting it and playing it at home on a tiny record player I kept in my attic. It was an out- of-body experience to hear it. Months later I was traumatized by the news of Buddy’s death.

  2. John
    The way you described your experience with acquiring “Maybe Baby” and than playing it on your little record player in the attic broke me up. You paint pictures and I can almost smell the attic with your narrative… very cool.
    Thanks for the juicy comment!

  3. i love all of buddy holly songs they sure are awesome if buddy holly was a live i wood 4 sure get his autograph i have a lot of hs cd’s and music tapes i started likeing buddy holly when i was 12-13 years old buddy you are an awesome singer i’ll see you up in2 heaven some day soon

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  11. Gary, distant applause from across the Atlantic for your excellent compilation. It’s certainly a testament to the talent s of Buddy Holly that his music and personality still live on. Thanks.

  12. Thanx Gary and Russ for another sincere and detailed glimpse of music history. I hope your fans will also see Paul McCartney’s hearfelt tribute to Buddy in his 10 part YouTube film called The Real Buddy Holly story with Buddy’s friends, family, Everly Brothers, Keith Richards and of course, The Beatles with rare film footage and home movies, interviews with The Crickets and Buddy’s last band members. It gives you shivers when Vi Petty gives Paul a tour of the N.M. studio where Buddy innovated such amazing sounds for recording a musical legacy still present. The musician may have died 56 years ago today but the music will live on forever. Rave On!


    Happy Birthday and many more to great Music Historian. Always nice to hear about American talent. The first time I heard “THAT”S BE THE DAY” was on a 4 foot Stromberg-CARLSON radio in a little town cabin my GRANDMOTHER own in Pennsylvania. That how a became a Pittsburgh DISC JOCKEY and I still play his many hits.




    Always glad to read the life stories of great singers and his many followers and supporters who still enjoy Buddy holly great music.
    Gary and Russ hope you had a great FATHERS DAY and may you have a pleasant Summer filled with great fun and music.



  15. Thanks for the update. Visited Clear Lake and the crash site several years ago, Even dined with the late Jerry Dwyer and his wife just down the street from the Ballroom. Buddy’s music is a cornerstone of Americana and popular music through generations..


    How is the weather in Canada? The Penquins lost to the Maple Leafs last night great team in Canada. This Summer I read the Story about BUDDY HOLLY this Summer, near in a million years will there be singers to replace the talent GOD gave him. HAPPY FROUNDHOG DAY Spring will be here soon let hope he is right last year he sucked.



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