Buddy Holly Biography


Buddy Holly Biography

149K. An Interview with Buddy

A Tribute song"Remember 59" by Joh Lang. 340k.RA


A letter from the parents of Buddy shortly after his death.

A special note from Joh Lang:

Photo: Ary Groenhuizen & Music The Teddy Bears. 117.K

I would like to dedicate this page to my good friend Ary Groenhuijzen in Zaandam (Holland), who was struck down with Motor Neuron Disease known as (ALS). Ary was the founder member and keyboard player of the Dutch Band from Amsterdam "The Teddy Bears " and I was the lead singer. In the early 60's I was the President of the Dutch Buddy Holly Appreciation Society supported by Buddy's parents and John Beecher in London. On the anniversary of Buddy's death, the 3rd of February, I organized a Winter Dance Party for fan club members. A local band "The Mystics" was hired and since no one in the band knew any Buddy Holly songs I offered to sing. Ary of "The Teddy Bears" was in the audience and a few days later he knocked on my door and asked me to join his band. We had a very succesful 5 years and a lifelong friendship. I carried on as a photographer and publisher of "Rock" music and moved to New Zealand and published "PoP Score" magazine. This gave me the opportunity to meet and photograph many of the world's biggest rock stars. Now 30 years later I am back to where I started, bringing a tribute to Buddy Holly and Ary Groenhuizen, the two people who changed my life.

Ary died on 15 July 1997 .

" We'll Always Remember You "

Joh Lang

Who can guess how he might have developed had he lived. Even in death he has left an indelible mark with even one of history's greatest musical combinations acknowledging his influence. - There may be an "A" in the name, but the truth of it is that when 20 year old John Lennon named his band "The Beatles', he was looking for a name that would pay tribute to one of their biggest influences - The Crickets.

The Buddy Holly story began when Ellena Holley gave birth to her fourth child in the small cotton town of Lubbock in Texas, on 7th September, 1936. He was christened Charles Hardin Holley, but his parents decided to call him "Buddy", a popular nickname for the youngest in the family. The change of spelling from Holley to Holly was the result of his name being mis-spelt on a recording contract in 1956 - he never changed it back.

Buddy's two elder brothers, Larry and Travis, each played several musical instruments and Buddy began to take an interest in the piano when he was 12 years old. He ditched the lessons fairly quickly, but his good ear for music enabled him to quickly play and sing just about anything he heard on the radio. The following year he became friends with a class mate Bob Montgomery. Bob was already playing guitar, and their love of music drew them together This friendship was an important factor in Buddy's development and was to last for all of his life Today, Bob is one of America's top record producers and the manager of Bobby Coldsboro.

Buddy began practising guitar and with Bob singing lead, Buddy would harmonize. The duo were soon in demand locally and were influenced not only by Country and Western music, which abounded on radio in that region, but also by bluegrass artists like Bill Monroe and blues-men such as Llghnin n ' Hopkins , Muddy Waters and Little Walter it was this unique blend that set them apart from hundreds of other hopefuls and was the basis for their musical development. In 1951, Dave Stone booked them for a guest spot on his radio show "Sunday Party". This led to other bookings and finally to their own programme: 'The Buddy and Bob Show". A local talent spotting D.J. "Hipockets" Duncan heard them and recognized their potential. He encouraged them to add a bass player, Larry Welborn, and as a trio they began to widen their repertoire. By 1954, Buddy had left Lubbock High School and was determined to make it in music.

The "Buddy and Bob" trio recorded several demo discs, but no record company seemed interested at the time. (Some of these discs were later issued on an LP. "Holly in the Hills"). The trio began to tour with Country & Western shows headlined by Marty Robbins and Hank Snow. They also met guitarist Sonny Curtis, drummer Jerry Allison and Waylon Jennings, fends who were also to be a big part of and influence on Buddy's career. But the important development in 1954 was that local radio station began playing rock'n'roll. black artists like Big Joe Turner, Little Richard and Fats Domino were providing the inspiration for Bill Haley and the fast emerging Elvis Presley. Buddy was quickly attracted to rock'n'roll and the new music began to be featured in his act On 14th October 1955 "Buddy and Bob" were booked to appear as support act to Bill Haley & his Comets in a show booked by the local radio station They were heard by a Nashville based agent called Eddie Crandall, who was also Marty Robbins' manager The following day they opened the show for Elvis Presley at Lubbocks's Cotton Club. when Crandall approached Decca for a recording contract for the "Buddy and Bob" trio, it seemed that the right opportunity was beginning to present itself. Decca were interested but not in the trio - only Buddy Holly. This left an agonizing decision, Bob insisted Buddy accept and he reluctantly agreed. He en-gaged Sonny Curtis and bassist Don Guess and the reformed trio drove to Nashville for the recording session. Decca were hoping that Buddy would emulate the success of RCA's Elvis Presley, whose single, "Heartbreak Hotel" had been released a few weeks before. They were also hoping he would follow in the footsteps of their other high riding star Bill Haley, whose "See You Later Alligator" was charting at the time.

On 26th January 1956, Buddy recorded four titles, from which "Blue Days - Black Nights" backed with "Love Me" were issued in America during April and Britain in August The Record sold badly. In July, Buddy returned with the trio plus drummer Jerry Allison to record five more titles: "Rock Around With Ollie Vee", "I'm Changin' All Those Changes", "Ting A Ling", "That'll Be The Day" and "Girl On My Mind". None of these recordings were released for over a year and Buddy was dropped from the label. "That'll Be The Day" was to become a number one hit and a million seller .Early in 1957, Decca decided not to take up the option on Buddy's contract and Sonny Curtis and Don Guess left Buddy and Jerry Allison continued to rehearse and explore new ideas. Without the support of other musical instruments, Buddy was forced to develop what later became known as the "Tex-MexSound" a style based largely on his jangling rhythm-cum-lead solos

At this time Buddy discovered Norman Petty's recording studio in Clovis, New Mexico, just over the state bonder from Texas. Roy Orbison and the Rhythm Orchids had launched their own successful recording careers from Petty's studio under his guidance. On 25th February 1957, Buddy Holly and his new quartet - The Crickets - set off for Clovis to record some demo tapes for Petty. "That'll Be The Day" and "I'm Looking For Some one To Love" were recorded and the vocals were added later Buddy was impressed with Norman Pety's production methods and his knowledge of the business. He asked Petty to become the group's manager. Petty accepted and was later to remark: "Although I discovered Buddy, I let him go his own way ... I was no magician where Buddy was concerned. You don't create talent - it's there". There are many stones as to how the Crickets came to be named Many early rock'n'roll group chose names based on birds, Jewels, flowers and astronomical objects. Buddy decided to consider an in-sect for the groups name According to Niki Sullivan Jerry came up with the idea of the Crickets . He said, "Well, you know, the make a happy sound, they're: happy type of insect". I remember him saying too, "They make music by rubbing their legs together" and that cracked us up. We tries some other names but finally we settled on the Crickets. Petty offered the tapes to Roulette and Columbia Records - both o whom showed no interest. Finally: he sent the tapes to a music publishing concern, Southern Music,who passed them on to Coral Records. Coral was a subsidiary of Decca, the company who had dropped Buddy a few months earlier On 27th May, the groups first single was released using the original Clovis demonstration tapes. It reached No. 3 in America, after 4 months in the charts and scored a No I in Britain in November 1957 and remained there for three weeks. In 1957, artists were usually limited to four singles a year or maybe an LP This wasn't a large enough outlet for Buddy, so Petty conceived the scheme which enabled the Crickets to have their records released on the Brunswick label (another subsidiary of Decca) and Buddy's solo records would be released on Coral.

Even before "That'll Be The Day" had entered the American charts, the first Buddy Holly solo single was released.- The immortal "Peggy Sue".

Originally, the song was to be called "Cindy Lou" after a two year old cousin of Buddy's Buddy's Jerry Allison suggested his fiancees name, and the new title was accepted. The record, backed by "Everyday' was a worldwide instant hit it was the second Crickets release and the third million seller f or Buddy . That Christmas they starred with Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis and the Everly Brothers at the Paramount Theatre in New York

At the start of 1958 the Crickets embarked on their first overseas tour. First, a concert in Hawaii and then a successful tour of Australia .On March 1st they arrived in Britain for a four week tour, which caused pandemonium wherever they played - No doubt increased by the success of the latest singles: "Maybe Baby' by the Crickets and "Listen To Me" by Buddy. Returning to the States, they immediately set off on another tour under Alan Freed. The package contained Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Larry Williams and Frankie Lymon The first Buddy Holly solo album was released entitled, simply,^Buddy Holly. - Unique, in that Buddy appeared without his now, well known glasses, on the: cover In June of '58, he went to New i York and recorded two songs by Bobby Da in "Early in The Morning" and "Now We One". They: We're recorded not only without the association of Norman Petty, but; also without the Crickets. Although a slight departure from Buddy's usual style, it was, never the less, a hit, and was a hint of the experimentation that was to follow.; On a second trip to New York later that month, he visited the music publishers Southern Music. Buddy: met and fell in love with a Puerto Rican girl, Maria Elana Santiago.; They were married in Lubbock on the 15th August and went on honeymoon to Acapulco with Jerry and Peggy Sue Allison who had themselves only been married for; four weeks.

During the summer, Buddy had contacted his old friend Bob Montgomery and they had collaborated on a couple of songs that were intended for the Everly Brothers. Buddy recorded demos of these songs which were "Wishing" and "Love's Made a Fool Of you" .

By August of 1958, Buddy and the Crickets and notched up between them, eight hit records and sold some ten million singles. It was known that he planned a Gospel Album and had asked Norman Petty to enlist the help of Ray Charles. There were also plans to produce other artists. The records "lt's So Easy" and "Lonesome Tears" were released and Tommy Allsup played on the Montgomery/Petty collaboration "Heartbeat" which - even though it did badly in the charts, has since become one of the most loved Buddy Holly songs.

The year ended on a quiet note, he bought an apartment in New York and took time out to consider his next moves. Now separated from Norman Petty and with the the departure of the originals Crickets, he felt he was at a crossroads.

Early in 1959, Buddy headlined a package show called the "Winter Dance Party" which also featured Ritchie Valens (whose recording of "Donna" was No 10 in the U.S. charts), Dion and the Belmonts and "The Big Bopper" (whose "Chantilly Lace" had been a million seller some months previously). On Monday 2nd February the tour had reached Clear Lake Iowa and was due to appear the next evening at Moorhead Armory, Minnesota

During the evening at Clear Lake, Buddy called Maria in New York and told her that it was an awful tour; the buses were dirty and unheated and there was heavy snow. Accommodation was poor and the tour was behind schedule. He told her that he was going on ahead to make arrangements for the next concert - He didn't tell her he had earlier chartered a four seater plane to take himself, Waylon Jennings (his replacement bass player) and drummer Tommy Allsup to Moorhead, so they could get some laundry done and have a decent nights sleep When the others heard of the arrangement both Jennings and Allsup got separate requests to give up their seats on the plane - "The Big Bopper" approached Jennings and said that he had a cold and that the bus was too cramped for some one his size and could he have the seat. Waylon didn't mind he was enjoying the bus and the novelty of touring and agreed.

Ritchie Valens had never flown in a small plane before and was excited by the idea. He pestered Allsup who finally, reluctantly, agreed to spin a coin for it Valens called Heads and took the seat I've ever won anything".

When the show was over Buddy, Ritchie and "The Big Bopper' drove to Mason City Airport and paid their thirty-six dollars fare.

They were not aware that the pilot, Roger Peterson, was not qualified to fly by night and was unfamiliar with the aircraft instruments. The plane took off shortly before l.OOam and headed north-west to wards Fargo - the nearest airport for the following evenings show

The snow was heavy and the strong wind caused all of the instruments to fluctuate. The twenty-one year old pilot was forced to rely on the plane's altitude gyroscope - which happened to read the planes pitch altitude the opposite way to conventional gyroscopes. Peterson had knowledge of this other type of gyroscope, but considering the snow and wind he must have become confused. He may never have realized that He may he was executing what he thought was a climbing turn, he was actually descending.

The plane crashed five miles from the airport, in a corn field, killing all four occupants The wreckage was found the following morning. As the news flashed around the world, millions of fans heard the news in stunned disbelief Thirteen years later, Don McLean recalled that cold fateful February day in his number I song "American Pie" it was, as he said,"The day the music died ".

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