BUDDY HOLLY | ROCK & ROLL PIONEER

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Buddy Holly and the Crickets

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It was fifty years ago– February 3, 1959, that the chartered plane carrying singers Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper, fell out of the sky and rock ‘n’ roll was forever changed.  Although his success lasted only a year and a half before his death, Holly is described by critic Bruce Eder as “the single most influential creative force in early rock and roll.”  His works and innovations were copied by his contemporaries and later musicians, notably The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, and exerted a profound influence on popular music.  In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Holly #13 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

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Buddy Holly

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Buddy Holly wrote his own material; used the recording studio for doubletracking and other advanced techniques; popularized the two guitars, bass, and drums lineup; and recorded a catalogue of songs that continue to be covered: “Not Fade Away,” “Rave On,” “That’ll Be the Day,” and others.  His playful, mock-ingenuous singing, with slides between falsetto and regular voice and a trademark “hiccup,” has been a major influence on Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, and numerous imitators.

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Waylon Jennings (left) playing bass literally dodged a bullet….

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Two of the band members who were travelling with Buddy on that fateful tour went on to make huge contributions to country music.  One of them was Waylon Jennings (above), who was filling-in on bass. He was also originally scheduled on the plane, headed from Clear Lake, Iowa, to Moorhead, Minn.–  but he gave up his seat to the Big Bopper, who was ill and wanted to find a doctor in Moorhead the next morning.  Waylon, of course, went on to land in the Country Music Hall of Fame.   The other band member to leave an impact on country was Tommy Allsup. Like Waylon, Tommy gave up a seat on that plane — to “La Bamba” singer Ritchie Valens.

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Waylon Jenning’s last comment to Buddy Holly was “Hope your darn ole plane crashes.”  Ouch, man.  I’m sure ol’ Waylon wishes he could take that one back.  Holly was a good friend, and Waylon’s mentor– teaching him guitar licks, collaborating on songs, and producing Jennings’ first single, “Jole Blon.”  Waylon recalls– “Mainly what I learned from Buddy was an attitude.  He loved music, and he taught me that it shouldn’t have any barriers to it.”

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Link to Buddy Holly story in VF

Link to Buddy Holly biography

Link to Waylon Jennings

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8 thoughts on “BUDDY HOLLY | ROCK & ROLL PIONEER

  1. “I hate that surf shit. Rock N Roll’s been goin’ down hill since Buddy Holly died” – American Graffiti

  2. Pingback: LADIES LOVE OUTLAWS | WAYLON, WILLIE, JOHNNY, KRIS & COMPANY « The Selvedge Yard

    • That last picture is amazing. stormsnbellsNrailroads… Buddy’s guitar is in the Buddy Holly Centre in Lubbock, Texas. There’s a small museum there in homage to him with all sorts of things. Including his glasses. Quite humbling really.

  3. I can only imagine what American pop music would be today if Buddy Holly hadn’t died. He was so progressive and open-minded. I think he would have had an answer to the British invasion and may have won the war.

  4. Buddy Holly would’ve allied with the Brits. He would’ve shown these guys what it really was all about. See: When the Beatles arrived in Ed Sullivan’s studio in NYC in Feb. ’64, John Lennon’s first question was: “Gee, is this the stage where Buddy Holly and the Crickets performed?” Indeed, it was that very stage.
    I think Bob Dylan went to one of Holly’s last concerts in winter ’59. After that, he bought his first electric guitar (he only swapped it for acoustic after he dug Woody Guthrie in the early 60s). It’s just incredible how significant Buddy Holly’s influence on later generations is.
    Buddy Holly lives!

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