All About Buddy Holly

Buddy Holly was the most progressive rock and roll star of the 1950s.

It's hard to believe that Buddy Holly was only 22 years old when he was killed (along with Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper) in that fateful plane crash on February 3rd, 1959. Born on September 7, 1936, in Lubbock, Texas, Charles Hardin Holley was already recording when he was still a teenager. Along with the rest of the Crickets, he had his first big hit records just around the time that he turned 21 years old in 1957.

Buddy's musical career started very early, while he was still in Junior High School in Lubbock. He and his friend Bob Montgomery were a duo, and would play country and western songs live at any function they could find that would have them. Before long they had begun to incorporate rhythm and blues songs into their act, as Buddy, Bob, and the other teenagers in the Lubbock area were starting to develop a taste for this new "rock 'n' roll" music that was catching on in many parts of the country around 1953. They started to perform live on local radio station KDAV, and eventually they became a trio, taking on a third member, bassist Larry Welborn. They did record a number of songs in 1954 and 1955, although none of these recordings were released until several years after Buddy's death.

Marty Robbins' manager, Eddie Crandall, was instrumental in getting Buddy his first recording contract in early 1956. Crandall hooked Buddy up with talent agent Jim Denny, who in turn contacted Decca's Nashville A & R man, Paul Cohen, who liked what he heard and got Decca executive Paul Stone to offer Buddy a contract. The only drawback was that Decca was interested only in Buddy, and not in his longtime partner Bob Montgomery, or Larry Welborn. Buddy was apprehensive at first, but Montgomery convinced him not to let this oppurtunity go by. Buddy recorded 12 songs for Decca in 1956, with 11 of them being released in the 50s, although 7 of the songs were not released until after he had become popular with the Crickets. Unfortunately none of the Decca records ever became hits. Studio musician Grady Martin played the rhythm guitar on these records, as Decca did not want Holly playing rhythm guitar while he was singing. They were concerned about feedback from Buddy's guitar leaking into the microphone, as there was no laying down of tracks in those days. Songs were recorded just like in a live performance. When this Decca group performed live they were billed as Buddy Holly & His Band, although Decca later dubbed the group "Buddy Holly & the Three Tunes" on some records that were released after Holly had become famous with the Crickets.

Buddy's big break came when he visited record producer Norman Petty in Clovis, New Mexico in early 1957. Petty told Buddy to go back to Lubbock, get his band together, and rehearse some songs. The one song that Buddy and Jerry Allison were really working on was something called "That'll Be The Day." The title was taken from a John Wayne movie called "The Searchers." Wayne had used that phrase throughout the movie. Buddy had already recorded a version of the song for Decca, but the label did not plan on ever releasing it, and frankly, the Decca version was not all that good. When they were ready to record they drove to Clovis. Taking the trip were Buddy, Jerry Allison, Niki Sullivan, and Larry Welborn, who had agreed to play the bass on the session. Don Guess was dropped from the group as he was unwilling to buy a bass, and the lease had just expired on a bass that he had rented for the past year. Sonny Curtis was gone too, as by this time Buddy wanted to be the lead guitarist, and Curtis was not interested in playing rhythm guitar. Sonny Curtis eventually became Holly's replacement in the Crickets when Buddy died, and he proved to be by far the second most talented member of the group, writing hit songs like "I Fought The Law," "Walk Right Back" (Everly Brothers), and believe it or not, he also wrote and sang the television theme for "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."

When they got to Clovis in the winter of 1957, they recorded two tracks, "That'll Be The Day," and "I'm Looking For Someone To Love." By this time Petty had gotten Brunswick Records interested in Buddy. Because of contract problems with Decca they could not release the record under the name of Buddy Holly, so they decided to call themselves the Crickets, supposedly getting the inspiration for the name from the Spiders, an R&B vocal group from New Orleans. Despite playing on those first two recordings, Larry Welborn was never actually a member of the Crickets; the group having added bassist Joe B. Mauldin as a permanent member before the recordings from the session had even been released.

The record took off big time in the summer of 1957, prompting Decca to release the earlier version of "That'll Be The Day" in the hopes of stealing away some of the sales of the record. The Brunswick version by "The Crickets" became a huge national hit, igniting the career of Buddy Holly. After a while the contract problems with Decca were resolved. This enabled Brunswick to release records by the Crickets on the Brunswick label, and at the same time release records by Buddy Holly on their Coral Records subsidiary, even though all of the recordings featured the entire Crickets group. Over the next year or so Buddy Holly and the Crickets had several big hit records, until Buddy decided to "really" become a solo act late in 1958. After recording a slew of new songs he headed out on a tour in early 1959. Unfortunately he never completed that tour, as February 3rd, 1959 became "The Day The Music Died" as termed in Don McLean's classic song, "American Pie" in 1971.

Buddy Holly was the most progressive rock and roll star of the 50s. His sound changed tremendously over the course of just about two years of recording. Several of his songs (Well...All Right, Words Of Love, True Love Ways) were years ahead of their time. We'll never know what he may have gone on to if he had lived, but one thing is for sure, Buddy Holly is certainly NEVER TO BE FORGOTTEN.
Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Bill Monroe, Fats Domino, Louvin Brothers, Johnnie & Jack, Clovers, Dominoes, Hank Ballard & the Midnighters, Joe Turner, Lightnin' Hopkins, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Little Walter, Drifters, Robins, Flatt & Scruggs, Ray Charles, Hank Snow, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Chuck Willis, Carl Perkins, Mickey "Guitar" Baker. By all accounts Buddy was very interested in country, and in rhythm and blues, but had almost no interest in, and was not influenced much at all by the pop music of the early 50s.
Beatles, Rolling Stones, Hollies, Bob Dylan, Linda Ronstadt, Elvis Costello, Cliff Richard & the Shadows, Phil Ochs, Fleetwood Mac, Peter & Gordon, Searchers, Eddie Cochran, Bobby Vee, Jimmy Gilmer, Tommy Roe, Bobby Fuller Four, Los Lobos, Hullaballoos, Rogues, Herman's Hermits, Freddie & the Dreamers, Gerry & the Pacemakers, Blind Faith, Eric Clapton, Mike Berry, Adam Faith, Marshall Crenshaw, Iggy Pop, Don McLean, etc..., etc...etc...
- DECCA RECORDS (1956) Buddy Holly - rhythm guitar, lead vocals
Sonny Curtis - lead guitar
Don Guess - bass
Jerry Allison - drums

- ORIGINAL MEMBERS (1957 - 1958) Buddy Holly - lead guitar, lead vocals
Niki Sullivan - rhythm guitar
Joe B. Mauldin - bass
Jerry "Ivan" Allison - drums

- LATER MEMBERS (1958 and later) Tommy Allsup - rhythm guitar
Sonny Curtis - lead guitar, lead vocals
Earl Sinks - lead vocals
Jerry Naylor - lead vocals
David Box - lead vocals
Glen D. Hardin - piano / organ
Bob Dylan - The singers and musicians I grew up with transcend nostalgia. Buddy Holly and Johnny Ace are just as valid to me today as then.

Keith Richards - Yeah...Buddy Holly...check m' out...bad motherfucker. Holly passed it on via the Beatles and via us. He's in everybody...this is not bad for a guy from Lubbock, right?

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

John Lennon - He made it easy to wear glasses. I WAS Buddy Holly.
Blue Days, Black Nights / Love Me - 1956 (Buddy Holly)
Decca 29854

Modern Don Juan / You Are My One Desire - 1956 (Buddy Holly)
Decca 31066

That'll Be The Day / I'm Looking For Someone To Love - 1957 (Crickets)
Brunswick 55009

Words Of Love / Mailman, Bring Me No More Blues - 1957 (Buddy Holly)
Coral 61852

Rock Around With Ollie Vee / That'll Be The Day - 1957 (Buddy Holly)
Decca 30434

Peggy Sue / Everyday - 1957 (Buddy Holly)
Coral 61885

Oh Boy! / Not Fade Away - 1957 (Crickets)
Brunswick 55035

I'm Gonna Love You Too / Listen To Me - 1958 (Buddy Holly)
Coral 61947

Maybe Baby / Tell Me How - 1958 (Crickets)
Brunswick 55053

Rave On / Take Your Time - 1958 (Buddy Holly)
Coral 61985

Think It Over / Fool's Paradise - 1958 (Crickets)
Brunswick 55072

Girl On My Mind / Ting-A-Ling - 1958 (Buddy Holly)
Decca 30650

Early In The Morning / Now We're One - 1958 (Buddy Holly)
Coral 62006

It's So Easy / Lonesome Tears - 1958 (Crickets)
Brunswick 55094

Real Wild Child / Oh You Beautiful Doll - 1958 (Ivan) [Ivan is Jerry Allison]
Coral 62017

Well....All Right / Heartbeat - 1958 (Buddy Holly)
Coral 62051

It Doesn't Matter Anymore / Raining In My Heart - 1959 (Buddy Holly)
Coral 62074

Love's Made A Fool Of You / Someone Someone - 1959 (Crickets without Holly)
Brunswick 55124

Peggy Sue Got Married / Crying, Waiting, Hoping - 1959 (Buddy Holly)
Coral 62134

When You Ask About Love / Deborah - 1959 (Crickets without Holly)
Brunswick 55153

More Than I Can Say / Baby My Heart - 1960 (Crickets without Holly)
Coarl 62198

True Love Ways / That Makes It Tough - 1960 (Buddy Holly)
Coarl 62210

Reminiscing / Wait Til The Sun Shines, Nellie - 1962 (Buddy Holly)
Coral 62329

Bo Diddley / True Love Ways - 1963 (Buddy Holly)
Coral 62352

Brown Eyed Handsome Man / Wishing - 1963 (Buddy Holly)
Coral 62369

What To Do / Slippin' And Slidin' - 1965 (Buddy Holly)
Coral 52448

Love Is Strange / You're The One - 1969 (Buddy Holly)
Coral 62558
The Chirping Crickets - 1957 - Brunswick 54038

1. Oh Boy!
2. Not Fade Away
3. You've Got Love/Maybe Baby
4. It's Too Late
5. Tell Me How
6. That'll Be The Day
7. I'm Lookin' For Someone To Love
8. An Empty Cup (And A Broken Date)
9. Send Me Some Lovin'
10. Last Night/Rock Me My Baby

Buddy Holly - 1958 - Coral 57210

1. I'm Gonna Love You Too
2. Peggy Sue
3. Look At Me/Listen To Me
4. Valley Of Tears
5. Ready Teddy/Everyday
6. Mailman, Bring me No More Blues
7. Words Of Love
8. You're So Square (Baby I Don't Care)
9. Rave On
10. Little Baby

That'll Be The Day - 1958 - Decca 8707

1. You Are My One Desire
2. Blue Days, Black Nights
3. Modern Don Juan
4. Rock Around With Ollie Vee
5. Ting-A-Ling
6. Girl On My Mind
7. That'll Be The day
8. Love Me
9. I'm Changing All Those Changes
10. Don't Come Back Knocking
11. Midnight Shift

The Buddy Holly Story - 1959 - Coral 57279

1. Raining In My Heart
2. Early In The Morning
3. Peggy Sue
4. Maybe Baby
5. Everyday
6. Rave On
7. That'll Be The Day/Heartbeat
8. Think It Over
9. Oh Boy!
10. It's So Easy
11. It Doesn't Matter Anymore

In Style With The Crickets - (without Holly) - 1960 - Coral 57320

1. More Than I Can Say
2. Rockin' Pneumonia & The Boogie Woogie Flu
3. Great Balls Of Fire
4. Ting-A-Ling
5. Just This Once
6. Deborah
7. Baby My Heart
8. When You Ask About Love
9. Time Will Tell
10. A Sweet Love
11. I Fought The Law
12. Love's Made A Fool Of You

The Buddy Holly Story, Volume 2 - 1960 - Coral 57326

1. Peggy Sue Got Married
2. Well...All Right
3. What To Do
4. That Makes It Tough
5. Now We're One
6. Take Your Time
7. Crying, Waiting, Hoping
8. True Love Ways
9. Learning The Game
10. Little Baby
11. Moondreams
12. That's What They say

Reminiscing - 1963 - Coral 57426

1. Reminiscing
2. Slippin' And Slidin'
3. Bo Diddley
4. Wait Til The Sun Shines, Nellie
5. Baby, Won't You Come Out Tonight
6. Brown Eyed Handsome Man
7. Because I Love You
8. It's Not My Fault
9. I'm Gonna Set My Foot Down
10. Changing All Those Changes
11. Rock-A-Bye-Rock

Showcase - 1964 - Coral 57450

1. Shake, Rattle And Roll
2. Rock Around With Ollie Vee
3. Honky Tonk
4. I Guess I Was Just A Fool
5. Ummm, Oh Yeah (Dearest)
6. You're The One
7. Blue Suede Shoes
8. Come Back Baby
9. Rip It Up
10. Love's Made A Fool Of You
11. Gone
12. Girl On My Mind

Holly In The Hills - 1965 - Coral 57463

1. I Wanna Play House With You
2. Door To My Heart
3. I Gambled My Heart
4. What To Do
5. Wishing
6. Down The Line
7. Soft Place In My Heart
8. Lonesome Tears
9. Gotta Get You Near Me Blues
10. Flower Of My Heart
11. You And I Are Through

Giant - 1969 - Coral 757504

1. Love Is Strange
2. Good Rockin' Tonight
3. Blue Monday
4. Have You Ever Been Lonely
5. Slippin' And Slidin'
6. You're The One
7. Dearest
8. Smokey Joe's Cafe
9. Ain't Got No Home
10. Holly Hop
1. That'll Be The Day
2. Peggy Sue
3. Rave On
4. Oh Boy!
5. Maybe Baby
6. Not Fade Away
7. It's So Easy
8. Everyday
9. It Doesn't Matter Anymore
10. True Love Ways
11. Words Of Love
12. Well....All Right
13. I'm Gonna Love You Too
14. Rock Around With Ollie Vee
15. I'm Lookin' For Someone To Love
16. Peggy Sue Got Married
17. Think It Over
18. Tell Me How
19. Heartbeat
20. Listen To Me
21. Love's Made A Fool Of You *
22. I Fought The Law *
23. You've Got Love
24. Raining In My Heart
25. Modern Don Juan
26. Blue Days, Black Nights
27. Learning The Game
28. What To Do
29. Crying, Waiting, Hoping
30. That Makes It Tough
31. Midnight Shift
32. Little Baby
33. Mailman, Bring Me No More Blues
34. Real Wild Child +
35. Love Me
36. Don't Come Back Knocking
37. Rock Me My Baby
38. I'm Changing All Those Changes
39. Take Your Time
40. Down The Line ++
41. Lonesome Tears
42. Brown Eyed Handsome Man
43. I'm Gonna Set My Foot Down
44. Rock-A-Bye-Rock
45. Ting-A-Ling
46. You're So Square (Baby I Don't Care)
47. More Than I Can Say **
48. Reminiscing
49. Ready Teddy
50. Early In The Morning
* Crickets without Holly - lead vocal by Earl Sinks
** Crickets without Holly - lead vocal by Sonny Curtis
+ Artist is Ivan (Jerry Allison) - Buddy Holly on lead guitar
++ Buddy & Bob (early recording eventually released in 1965)
Most Influential Rock 'n' Roll Artists - # 6
Greatest Rock Songwriters - # 13
Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Artists of the 50s - # 6
Greatest Rock Artists - # 20

Songs by Buddy Holly & the Crickets are featured on several DDD song lists, including "That'll Be The Day" at # 10 on the "100 Greatest Rock Songs of the 50s" list, and also at # 89 on the "Greatest Rock Songs" list.

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