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Buddy Holly

Cut short at the peak of his career in a plane crash on February 3, 1959, there’s no doubt that the already burgeoning legend of the bespectacled BUDDY HOLLY, would’ve lasted a lot further than his short ’n’ sweet 22 years on Planet Earth. Instead, the singer-songwriter/guitarist live on forever as rock’n’roll’s uniquely twee and amiable star of his generation. Once heard, no one could resist the charm of initial such as `That’ll Be The Day’, `Peggy Sue’ (b/w `Everyday’) and `Oh, Boy!’.
Born Charles Hardin Holley, September 7, 1936, in Lubbock, Texas, his family were all musicians or singers, which helped him develop from young progeny to esteemed songsmith. During the early 50s, the young HOLLY formed a C&W duo with schoolmate, Bob Montgomery. In a short space of time, as Buddy & Bob, the pair became regulars on a Saturday afternoon TV show, while they subsequently put together a number of demos; later issued as “Holly In The Hills”. With the addition of bass-man Larry Welborn and drummer Jerry Allison, the re-vamped unit began to make a name for themselves locally. After a gig supporting BILL HALEY & HIS COMETS, in the rock’n’roll year of ‘55, and through agent Eddie Crandall, BUDDY HOLLY was signed up in Nashville by Decca Records, early the following year. Rejecting Montgomery (who went on to become a successful producer, etc.), the bespectacled HOLLY formed backing band: The Three Tunes, retaining Jerry, and recruiting Sonny Curtis (guitar) plus Don Guess (bass).
Following two flop singles, both Buddy and Jerry left the label, travelling to Clovia, New Mexico in search of producer, Norman Petty, who was soon to become their manager. Early in ‘57, the pair were joined by Niki Sullivan (rhythm guitar) and Joe B. Maudlin (bass); the quartet becoming The CRICKETS in the process. Their debut single, `That’ll Be The Day’, scaled the top of the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, selling a million in a matter of weeks. As a solo artist (with CRICKETS backing), HOLLY set up a deal with Bob Thiele at Coral Records, who released `Peggy Sue’, another transatlantic Top 10 smash. The single also introduced HOLLY’s idiosyncratic vocal mannerisms, his exaggerated hiccup-ing framed by simple but effective arrangements and infectious hooks, which influenced many of the biggest 60s rock/pop stars, including DYLAN, The BEATLES and The ROLLING STONES; the latter combo had their inaugural UK hit with a flipside, `Not Fade Away’. Over the course of the following year, he balanced a series of CRICKETS hits (`Oh, Boy!’, `Maybe Baby’ and `Think It Over’) with his own solo classics (`Listen To Me’, `Rave On’ and `Early In The Morning’); LPs THE “CHIRPING” CRICKETS (1957) {*9} and BUDDY HOLLY (1958) {*8}
His partnership with The CRICKETS was eventually severed in August ‘58, when Buddy wed Maria Elena Santiago and moved to New York to prepare for their the birth of their child. HOLLY’s post-CRICKETS single, `Heartbeat’, was surprisingly disappointing in terms of homeland chart success (stalling at No.82), although it did manage to scrape into the UK Top 30. This was certainly a transitional period, and things looking promising early the following year when the singer set out as headliner on a winter-long package tour of the States.
Tragically, on the morning of February 3, 1959, HOLLY, along with fellow pop stars, RITCHIE VALENS and the BIG BOPPER (aka J.P. Richardson) were killed when their chartered plane crashed just after take-off from Mason City airport in Iowa. A posthumous release (written by PAUL ANKA): `It Doesn’t Matter Anymore’ – backed by `Raining In My Heart’ – became one of his biggest UK hits, while climbing the US Top 20. With a bulging vault of HOLLY material at his disposal, Norman Petty proceeded to keep Buddy’s name alive via a series of hit releases during the early 60s. Although fans might have disagreed on what direction HOLLY’s career might’ve taken, there was no disputing the fact that the young man, still in his prime, had a wealth of music inside of him. 70s stars, MUD (`Oh, Boy!’), SHOWADDYWADDY (`Heartbeat’) and LEO SAYER (`Raining In My Heart’), to name but three, all made their mark in pop history courtesy of Buddy’s golden nuggets. If one needed further testament to his greatness, a raft of subsequent retrospectives, including THE BUDDY HOLLY COLLECTION (1993) {*10}, showcased all his hits and more.
© MC Strong 1994-2006 / rev-up MCS May2013

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