Classic Oldies
Musician. Born in Lubbock, Texas, by junior high school he had turned his attention to the guitar, and formed a western duo with his friend Bob Montgomery. Gaining popularity in the Lubbock area, during the mid 1950’s they opened for the likes of Bill Haley, Elvis, and Marty Robbins. In 1956 he signed a contract with Decca Records, and recorded a number of songs. Through 1957 and 1958 he released a number of records, and began to sing as well. It was then that he formed a band known as “The Crickets”.
Buddy Holly

Early life
Charles Hardin Holley was born in Lubbock, Texas to

Lawrence Odell and Ella Pauline (Drake) Holley on Labor

Day, 1936. The Holleys were a musical family, and as a

boy Holley learned to play piano, guitar, and violin. His

singing won him a talent contest at age five. Holly was

always called Buddy by his family. In 1949, he made a

recording of Hank Snow’s “My Two Timin’ Woman” on a

wire recorder “borrowed” by a friend who worked in a

music shop, his first known recording.

Also that year, he met Bob Montgomery at Hutchinson

Junior High School. They shared an interest in music and

teamed up as “Buddy and Bob”. Initially influenced by

bluegrass music, they sang harmony duets at local clubs

and high school talent shows. Hutchinson Junior High

School now has a mural honoring him, and Lubbock High

School also honors the late musician. Holly sang in the

Lubbock High School Choir.

The Crickets
Holly saw Elvis Presley sing in Lubbock in 1955 and

began to incorporate a rockabilly style into his music,

which gradually evolved into rock music. On October 15,

he opened on the same bill with Presley in Lubbock,

catching the eye of a Nashville talent scout.Holly’s

transition to rock continued when he opened for Bill Haley

& His Comets at a local show organized by Eddie

Crandall, the manager for Marty Robbins.

Following this performance, Decca Records signed him to

a contract in February 1956, misspelling his name as

“Holly”. He adopted it for his professional career. Holly

formed his own band, which would later be called the

Crickets. It consisted of Holly (lead guitar and vocalist),

Niki Sullivan (guitar), Joe B. Mauldin (bass), and Jerry

Allison (drums).

They went to Nashville for three recording sessions with

producer Owen Bradley.However, he chafed under a

restrictive atmosphere that allowed him little input.Among

the tracks he recorded was an early version of “That’ll Be

The Day”, which took its title from a line that John Wayne’s

character says repeatedly in the 1956 film, The Searchers.

(This initial version of the song played more slowly and

about half an octave higher than the later hit version.)

Decca chose to release two singles, “Blue Days, Black

Nights” and “Modern Don Juan”, which failed to make an

impression. On January 22, 1957, Decca informed Holly

that his contract would not be renewed,insisting however

that he could not record the same songs for anyone else

for five years.

Norman Petty Recording Studios in Clovis, New

MexicoHolly then hired Norman Petty as manager, and the

band began recording at Petty’s studios in Clovis, New

Mexico. Petty contacted music publishers and labels, and

Brunswick Records, a subsidiary of Decca, signed the

Crickets on March 19, 1957. Holly signed as a solo artist

with another Decca subsidiary, Coral Records. This put

him in the unusual position of having two recording

contracts at the same time.

On May 27, “That’ll Be The Day” was released as a single,

credited to the Crickets to try to bypass Decca’s claimed

legal rights. When the song became a hit, Decca decided

not to press its claim. “That’ll Be the Day” topped the US

“Best Sellers in Stores” chart on September 23 and was

the UK Singles Chart for three weeks in November. The

Crickets performed “That’ll Be the Day” and “Peggy Sue”,

on The Ed Sullivan Show on December 1.

Holly managed to bridge the racial divide that marked

rock n’ roll. While Elvis made black music more

acceptable to white audiences, Holly won over an all-

black audience when the Crickets were booked at New

York’s Apollo Theater for August 16–22, 1956. Unlike the

immediate response shown in the 1978 movie The Buddy

Holly Story, it actually took several performances for the

audience to warm to him. In August 1957, the Crickets were

the only white performers on a national tour.

As Holly was signed as both a solo artist and as part of the

Crickets, two debut albums were released: The “Chirping”

Crickets on November 27, 1957 and Buddy Holly on

February 20, 1958.[13] His singles “Peggy Sue” and “Oh

Boy!” reached the top ten on both the United States and

United Kingdom charts. Buddy Holly and the Crickets

toured Australia in January 1958, and the UK in March.

Their third and final album, That’ll Be the Day, was put

together from early recordings and was released in April.

In June 1958, he met Maria Elena Santiago, who was

working as a receptionist for Murray Deutch, an executive

at Peer-Southern Music, a New York music publisher.

Holly managed to have Santiago invited to a luncheon at

Howard Johnson’s, thanks to Deutch’s secretary, Jo

Harper. He asked her to have dinner with him that night at

P. J. Clarke’s. Holly proposed marriage to her on their very

first date. “While we were having dinner, he got up and

came back with his hands behind his back. He brought out

a red rose and said, “This is for you. Would you marry

me?” He went to her guardian’s house the next morning to

get her approval. Santiago at first thought he was kidding,

but they married in Lubbock on August 15, 1958, less than

two months later.[15] “I’d never had a boyfriend in my life.

I’d never been on a date before. But when I saw Buddy, it

was like magic. We had something special: love at first

sight,” she told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal on what

would have been their 50th wedding anniversary.[16] The

newlyweds honeymooned in Acapulco.

Maria Elena traveled on tours, doing everything from the

laundry to equipment setup to ensure the group got paid.

Although Holly had already begun to become

disillusioned with Norman Petty before meeting his bride, it

was through Maria Elena and her aunt Provi, who was the

head of Latin American music at Peer Southern, that he

began to fully realize what was going on with his manager,

who was paying the band’s royalties into his own

company’s account.

Holly wrote the song “True Love Ways” about his

relationship with his young wife. It was recorded in her

presence on October 21, 1958 at Decca’s Pythian Temple,

with Dick Jacob, Coral-Brunswick’s new head of Artists &

Repertoire, serving as both producer and conductor of the

eighteen-piece orchestra, which included members of the

New York Symphony Orchestra, NBC Television’s house

orchestra and Abraham “Boomie” Richman, formerly of

Benny Goodman’s band.

It was not until Holly died that many fans became aware of

his marriage.

Holly in New York
The ambitious Holly became increasingly interested in the

New York music/recording/publishing scene, while his

bandmates wanted to go back home to Lubbock. As a

result, the group split up in late 1958. The Hollys settled in

at Greenwich Village, New York, in the new Brevoort

apartment block at 9th Street and Fifth Avenue. It was here

that he recorded the series of acoustic songs, including

“Crying, Waiting, Hoping” and “What to Do”, known as the

“Apartment Tapes”, which were released after his death.

The Hollys frequented many of New York’s music venues,

including The Village Gate, Blue Note, Village Vanguard,

and Johnny Johnson’s. Maria Elena reported that Buddy

was keen to learn finger-style flamenco guitar and would

often visit her aunt’s home to play the piano there. He

wanted to develop collaborations between soul singers

and rock ‘n’ roll, hoping to make an album with Ray

Charles and gospel legend Mahalia Jackson. He also

had ambitions to work in film, like Elvis Presley and Eddie

Cochran, and registered for acting classes with Lee

Strasburg’s Actors’ Studio, where the likes of Marlon

Brando and James Dean had trained.

However, he was still having trouble getting his royalties

from Petty, so he hired the noted lawyer Harold Orenstein

at the recommendation of his friends, the Everly Brothers,

who had engaged Orenstein following their own disputes

with their manager Wesley Rose. Yet, with the money still

being withheld by Petty and with rent due, Buddy was

forced to go back on the road.


Holly’s headstone in the City of Lubbock CemeteryMain

article: The Day the Music Died
Buddy was offered the Winter Dance Party by the GAC

agency, a three-week tour across the Midwest opening on

January 23, 1959, with other notable performers such as

Dion and the Belmonts, Ritchie Valens, and J. P. “The Big

Bopper” Richardson. He assembled a backing band

consisting of Tommy Allsup (guitar), Waylon Jennings

(bass) and Carl Bunch (drums) and billed as The Crickets.

The tour turned out to be a miserable ordeal for the

performers, who were subjected to long overnight travel in

a bus plagued with a faulty heating system in -25°F (-32°C)

temperatures. The bus also broke down several times

between stops. Following a performance at the Surf

Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa on February 2, 1959, Holly

chartered a small airplane to take him to the next stop on

the tour. He, Valens, Richardson, and the pilot were killed

en route to Moorhead, Minnesota, when their plane

crashed soon after taking off from nearby Mason City in the

early morning hours of February 3. Don McLean referred to

it as “The Day the Music Died” in his song “American Pie”.

Holly’s funeral was held on February 7, 1959, at the

Tabernacle Baptist Church in Lubbock.The service was

performed by Ben D. Johnson, who had presided at the

Hollys’ wedding just months earlier. The pallbearers were

Jerry Allison, Joe B. Mauldin, Niki Sullivan, Bob

Montgomery, Sonny Curtis and Phil Everly. Waylon

Jennings was unable to attend due to his commitment to

the still touring Winter Dance Party. The 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


Holly’s pregnant wife became a widow after barely six

months of marriage and miscarried soon after. María

Elena Holly did not attend the funeral and has never

visited the grave site. She later told the Avalanche-Journal:

In a way, I blame myself. I was not feeling well when he left.

I was two weeks pregnant, and I wanted Buddy to stay with

me, but he had scheduled that tour. It was the only time I

wasn’t with him. And I blame myself because I know that, if

only I had gone along, Buddy never would have gotten into

that airplane.

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 …”.


Buddy Holly statue on the Lubbock Walk of FameHolly set

the template for the standard rock and roll band: two

guitars, bass, and drums. He was also one of the first in the

genre to write, produce, and perform his own songs.

Contrary to popular belief, teenagers John Lennon and

Paul McCartney did not attend a Holly concert, although

they watched his TV appearance on Sunday Night at the

London Palladium; Tony Bramwell, a school friend of

McCartney and George Harrison, did. Bramwell met Holly,

and freely shared his records with all three. Lennon and

McCartney later cited Holly as a primary influence.(Their

band’s name, The Beatles, was chosen partly in homage

to Holly’s Crickets.) The Beatles did a cover version of

“Words of Love” that was a close reproduction of Holly’s

version, released on 1964’s Beatles for Sale. During the

January 1969 sessions for the Let It Be album, the Beatles

played a slow impromptu version of “Mailman, Bring Me

No More Blues” — although not written by Holly, it was

popularized by him — with Lennon mimicking Holly’s vocal

style; the recording was eventually released in the mid-

1990s on Anthology 3. Paul McCartney’s band Wings

recorded their version of “Love is Strange” on their first

album Wild Life. In addition, John Lennon recorded a

cover version of “Peggy Sue” on his 1975 album Rock ‘n’

Roll. McCartney owns the publishing rights to Holly’s song


A 17-year-old Bob Dylan attended the January 31, 1959

show, two nights before Holly’s death. Dylan referred to

this in his 1998 Grammy acceptance speech for his Time

out of Mind being named Album of the Year:

And I just want to say that when I was sixteen or seventeen

years old, I went to see Buddy Holly play at Duluth

National Guard Armory and I was three feet away from

him…and he LOOKED at me. And I just have some sort of

feeling that he was — I don’t know how or why — but I know

he was with us all the time we were making this record in

some kind of way.

The Holly mural on 19th Street in LubbockKeith Richards

attended one of Holly’s performances, where he heard

“Not Fade Away” for the first time. The Rolling Stones had

an early hit covering the song.

In an August 24, 1978 Rolling Stone interview, Bruce

Springsteen told Dave Marsh, “I play Buddy Holly every

night before I go on; that keeps me honest.”

Various rock and roll histories have asserted that the

singing group The Hollies were named in homage to

Buddy Holly. According to the band’s website, although

the group admired Holly (and years later produced an

album covering some of his songs), their name was

inspired primarily by the sprigs of holly in evidence around

Christmas of 1962.

Main article: Buddy Holly discography
Buddy Holly released only three albums in his lifetime.

Nonetheless, he recorded so prolifically that Coral

Records was able to release brand-new albums and

singles for 10 years after his death, although the technical

quality was very mixed, some being studio quality and

others home recordings. Holly’s simple demonstration

recordings were overdubbed by studio musicians to bring

them up to then-commercial standards. The best of these

overdubbed 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.

[citation needed] “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. But the

best “posthumous” records were the studio recordings,

which included “Wishing” and “Reminiscing”.

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.

The Picks’ overdubs
In February 1984, MCA mastering engineer Steve Hoffman

sent what are known as safety copies of several Buddy

Holly master recordings to John Pickering of The Picks

who took them to Sound Masters studios in Houston,

Texas. There, the reunited group overdubbed their new

vocal parts onto at least 60 recordings, and sent them

back to Hoffman at MCA. The general consensus seems

to be that, under Hoffman’s influence, MCA would have

issued these “new” recordings as an album, perhaps to

commemorate the 25th year since Holly’s passing. This

however, was not to be.

Not long afterwards, Hoffman was fired by MCA, for,

among other things, stealing master tapes of Holly

material and attempting to sell them to parties such as the

Norman Petty estate. A short time later, a raid produced

the stolen tapes, which were returned to MCA. With these

plans having fallen through, Pickering decided to take

matters into his own hands and release them himself.

These recordings slowly made their way to the public on

privately pressed albums like The Original Chirping Sound

and Buddy Holly Not Fade Away. In 1992, Pickering

approached Viceroy Records to arrange a deal for major

nationwide distribution of these overdubbed recordings,

who hit a brick wall when MCA made it clear that Pickering

did not have proper legal clearance to release such

recordings. Andy McKaie, an MCA executive, has stated

that Pickering has never bothered to ask for licensing on

the songs. To this day, budget labels release these

recordings despite the fact that they are, depending on

how one looks at it, bootlegs or pirates.

In popular culture

The Buddy Holly Center, a small museum located in

Lubbock Film and musical depictions
Holly’s life story inspired a Hollywood biographical film,

The Buddy Holly Story. Star Gary Busey received a

nomination for Academy Award for Best Actor for his

portrayal of Holly. The movie was widely criticized by the

rock community and Holly’s friends and family for its

inaccuracies. This led Paul McCartney to produce and

host his own tribute to Holly in 1985, titled The Real Buddy

Holly Story. This video includes interviews with Keith

Richards, Phil and Don Everly, Sonny Curtis, Jerry Allison,

Holly’s family, and McCartney himself, among others.

In 1987, Marshall Crenshaw portrayed Buddy Holly in the

movie La Bamba. He is featured performing at the Surf

Ballroom and boarding the doomed airplane with Ritchie

Valens and The Big Bopper. Crenshaw’s version of

“Crying, Waiting, Hoping” is featured on the La Bamba

original motion picture soundtrack. Steve Buscemi played

a Buddy Holly imitator/waiter in Pulp Fiction (1994).

Currently in preproduction (scheduled for 2010) is a film

version of Bradley Denton’s 1991 sci-fi novel Buddy Holly

Is Alive and Well on Ganymede, starring Jon Heder of

Napoleon Dynamite fame—not as Buddy (that role is still

open) but as the protagonist Oliver Vale.

There were also successful Broadway and West End

musicals documenting his career. Buddy – The Buddy

Holly Story ran in the West End for 13 years. This was

followed by a tour and return to the West End on August 3,


Buddy appeared briefly in an episode of the BBC’s ‘Young

Ones’ when he crashed through the ceiling of the flat and

played his guitar while suspended upside down in his

tangled parachute strings.

Don McLean’s popular 1971 ballad American Pie is

inspired by Holly and the day of the plane crash.
The American Pie album is dedicated to Holly.
Weezer wrote a song titled Buddy Holly.
Alvin Stardust wrote a song called I Feel Like Buddy Holly.
Swedish band Gyllene Tider (pre-Roxette) recorded the

song Ska vi älska, så ska vi älska till Buddy Holly (“If We’ll

Make Love We’ll Make Love to Buddy Holly”) in 1979.
Buddy is featured on the 7″ label.
Nirvana’s music video for the song In Bloom pays tribute to

Buddy with frontman Kurt Cobain parodying his style and

In the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ music video for Dani

California, the band takes on several sub genres of Rock,

Buddy is one of the first to be represented.
The Buddy Holly statue in Lubbock, TX is referred to in the

Dixie Chicks song Lubbock or Leave It (Taking the Long

Way, 2006) with the lyrics:
International airport… as I’m getting out I laugh to myself

’cause this is the only place, where as you’re getting on the

plane you see Buddy Holly’s face. I hear they hate me now

just like they hated you, maybe when I’m dead and gone

I’m gonna get a statue too.

Buddy has appeared as a fictional character in several

novels. Bradley Denton’s Buddy Holly is Alive and Well on

Ganymede, won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award

for Best Science Fiction Novel in 1992. He was referred to

as a character in P.F. Kluge’s Eddie and the Cruisers

(1980) and showed up in an alternate time stream in ‘The

Second Coming of Buddy Holley’ chapter in Edward

Bryant’s 1988 Wild Cards Volume V: Down and Dirty–an

original Bantam Books paperback. The plane crash

appeared in The Day the Music Died (Carroll & Graf,

1999), the first of Ed Gorman’s rock ‘n’ roll mystery novels.

In Terry Pratchett’s Soul Music, the pioneer of what is

easily recognized as rock and roll is a musician from

Llamedos named Imp y Celyn, or Buddy Holly.


Fan monument in a private cornfield at the site of the

airplane crash, near Clear Lake, IowaDowntown Lubbock

has a “walk of fame” with plaques to various area artists

such as Glenna Goodacre, Mac Davis, Maines Brothers

Band, and Waylon Jennings, with a life-size statue of

Buddy by sculptor Grant Speed (1980) playing his Fender

guitar as its centerpiece. Downtown Lubbock also features

Buddy Holly Avenue and the Buddy Holly Center, which is

a museum dedicated to Texas art and music.

In 1988, Ken Paquette, a Wisconsin fan of the 1950s,

erected a stainless steel monument at the site of the

airplane crash, depicting a steel guitar and a set of three

records bearing the names of each of the three

performers. It is located on private farmland approximately

five miles north of Clear Lake. He also created a similar

stainless steel monument to the three musicians at the

Riverside Ballroom in Green Bay. That memorial was

unveiled on July 17, 2003

Buddy Holly’s previous home in Lubbock is still standing. It

is a private residence and not open for tours.

Birth: Sep. 7, 1936
Lubbock County
Texas, USA
Death: Feb. 3, 1959
Cerro Gordo County
Iowa, USA

The group toured extensively in both the United States and England, producing such hits as “Peggy Sue”, “Oh Boy”, and “Rave On”. In late 1958 the group had a falling out with Buddy Holly and he went on tour by himself. On February 2, 1959, he joined entertainers Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson. They had just finished an appearance at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. The doomed trio took off from Mason City, traveling to Fargo, North Dakota, as it was the nearest airport to their next concert location in Moorhead, Minnesota. The plane took off early on the morning of February 3rd in a snow storm and crashed minutes after take-off killing all on board