Today is the anniversary of Buddy Holly’s birth. What an unbelievable impact he achieved in a recording career that lasted less than two years. When he died at age 22 in the famous plane crash of February 1959 while on his way from Clear Lake, Iowa to a concert in Moorhead, Minnesota, he had established himself as a precocious musician of great gifts.
Writing and singing his own songs, fronting his own four-piece band, introducing the Fender Stratocaster as the supreme rock axe, Holly inspired a legion of followers. Foremost among the followers, of course, were the Beatles. They paid tribute to Holly in their name, a play off of Holly’s Crickets, the group that had backed him on his first hits. But the Beatles were only the most prominent of an improbable crew of successors including Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Elvis Costello.
The song that put Holly on the charts was “That’ll Be the Day,” a takeofff on John Wayne’s line in “The Searchers.” The hits that followed were “Peggy Sue,” “Oh, Boy!” “Maybe Baby,” “Rave On,” “Heartbeat,” and “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore.” Among the nonhits are such knockouts as “Words of Love,” “Well All Right,” and “Not Fade Away.”
Check out the complicated story behind the release of “That’ll Be the Day” on the terrific AllMusic Guide Buddy Holly biographical entry by Bruce Eder, and join the celebration in honor of Holly’s birthday at Buddy Holly.com: The Official Community.
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