Buddy Holly

Buddy Holly

'Buddy Holly gave you confidence. He was like the boy next door.' Paul McCartney

Buddy Holly was one of the first major stars of rock 'n' roll. Taking aspects of country and western alongside rhythm and blues he developed his own style and became one of rock 'n' rolls most influential artists.

Buddy Holly started his performing career young, whilst still in Junior High. Together with Bob Montgomery he would play country and western tunes for anyone who would listen. When rhythm and blues started to become the music of choice for teenagers, the duo began to include this new style into their act, leaving the audience happy and the duo interested in developing their music further. With the group becoming a trio with the inclusion of Larry Welborn, they started to enjoy some local success, playing live on local radio and recording some songs.

Buddy's first chance at stardom came in 1956 when he signed to Decca as a solo artist. He recorded 12 songs for Decca but none of the four singles they initially released were to become hits.

His second chance came via the record producer Norman Petty in 1957 who liked what he heard of Buddy and sent him away to get a band together and rehearse. Back in his home town of Lubbock, Buddy got a group together and they rehearsed heavily, particularly on a new song by Buddy and Jerry Allison called "That'll Be The Day". While it had to be released as a recording by "The Crickets", due to contractual issues with Decca, this was without a doubt the song that made Buddy a star; it topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. The rest of that year saw the group record a string of classics including "Peggy Sue", "Oh Boy" and "Not Fade Away" while Holly proved he wasn't just a great performer and songwriter as he used new production techniques to get the sound he wanted.

Following extensive touring Buddy and the Crickets went their separate ways in 1958 and Buddy became a solo act. This didn't stop his creativity, if anything it spurred him onto new heights, with recordings such as "True Love Ways", "Raining in my Heart" and "It Doesn't Matter Anymore".

In January 1959 Buddy assembled a group to play the US Midwest with him on the "Winter Dance Party" tour. It was on this tour, and whilst at the height of his success, that Buddy was killed in a plane crash alongside the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens.

  • Holly's last performance was at the Surf Ballroom, Clear Lake, Iowa. Every year a tribute is held there on the anniversary of his death.

  • In 1962 a UK group, The Dominators of Rhythm, were joined by a guitarist from The Dolphins and renamed themselves after the memory of Buddy Holly. Their new name? The Hollies.

  • The hit "That'll Be The Day" was influenced by John Wayne who uses the phrase throughout the film "The Searchers".

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