Rock and Roll Legends of the 1950’s -Buddy Holly and the Crickets

Buddy Holly is a story of great success and a tragic end. Born Charles Hardin Holley on September 7, 1936 his musical career began early. At the age of five he entered a talent contest which he won. Buddy learned how to play four different musical instruments by the age of 13. At age 16 he met Bob Montgomery and formed a duo called Buddy and Bob. Together they sang harmony duets at local clubs in Lubbock, Texas and also performed in High School talent contests .They appeared in a Sunday radio broadcast and this helped them to become a top local act. In 1955 Buddy was the opening act for Elvis Presley in a Lubbock, Texas show. He and Bob Montgomery went on to play a show with Bill Haley and the Comets organized by Eddie Crandall, a top talent scout of the day.

After this performance Buddy was offered a contract with Decca records who spelled his name Holly on the contract instead of Holley the real spelling. Buddy decided to keep the spelling and decided to make it the spelling for his musical career. He formed a band called the Crickets made up of three other members who were Niki Sullivan guitar player, Joe Mauldin bass, and Jerry Allison on the drums. They headed for Nashville, Tn for a recording session with producer Owen Bradley. The recording session did not go well even though two of the recordings Blue Days, Black Nights and Modern Don Juan were released, but failed to catch on with the public. Just one year after signing a contract Decca informed Buddy in 1957 that they were cancelling his contract. This seemed to be best for both Buddy and Decca as the style they wanted him to sing was not the direction that Buddy wanted to go. He had a style he believed would be popular and this freed him to pursue that style.

In March 1957 Buddy hired Norman Petty to be his Manager and beganrecording in Petty’s studio in Clovis, New Mexico. Petty was able to take the recordings and get Buddy and the Crickets a new record deal with Brunswick records. Buddy also got a deal as a solo artist with Coral Records. In May, 1957 That’ll Be The Day was released and became a best seller both in the United States and Great Britain. Buddy and the Crickets then got some tv appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show and a show called The Arthur Murray Party where Buddy sang Peggy Sue. This is the only two live filmed appearances in Buddy’s short career.

With two hits on the charts, Peggy Sue and That’ll be the day Holly and the Crickets were booked by New York’s Apollo theatre the owner thinking they were a black band. The first few performances at the Apollo didn’t go well, but as the week wore on the band got a better reception and as a result went on tour as the only white band with several black artists of the day one of which was Sam Cooke.

In November 1957 an album was released called the Chirping Crickets with Brunswick records. Buddy also released a solo album with Coral called Buddy Holly Greatest Hits in early 1958. On this album Buddy had the hit single Peggy Sue and his new hit Oh Boy. The album sold well so Buddy and the Crickets were offered a tour to Australia in January, 1958 to be followed up with a tour to the UK in March, 1958. In April a third album featuring Buddy and the Crickets called That’ll Be the Day was released. This would be the bands third and final album.

In June, 1958 Buddy met Maria Santiago who worked for a music publishing firm in New York. After a whirlwind courtship Buddy married Maria two months later in his home town of Lubbock, Texas. Buddy and his new wife headed back to New York where Buddy recorded True Love Ways which was a song he wrote about his relationship with his new bride. The Crickets decided they did not want the New York life and Buddy and the Crickets split. The Crickets headed back to Lubbock, Texas and Buddy began to work as a solo artist. Buddy stayed busy writing and recording songs as well as making plans for other entertainment ventures which included making an album with other artists and hopefully movies. He began taking acting lessons at Lee Strasberg’s acting studio.

Buddy had run into some problems with his Manager Norman Petty who wasn’t paying his royalties from his record sales. He hired Lawyer Harold Orenstein to sue Petty, but waiting on the court to rule Buddy’s money was still not being paid and the bills were piling up. Buddy was satisfied to stay in New York, but because of the money problem had to accept a tour with Winter Dance Party which would be a three week tour of several Midwestern Cities. He would be touring with such top acts as Dion and the Belmonts, Richie Valens, and J.P “The Big Bopper” Richardson.

On February 2, 1959 Holly disillusioned with riding the tour bus chartered a plane that would take him, Richie Valens, and The Big Bopper to the next stop on the tour. After their performance in Clear Lake, Iowa the three boarded the plane for their next destination Moorhead, Minnesota. In the early morning hours of February 3, 1959 the plane crashed killing all on board. Holly left behind his wife of less than a year who was pregnant, but would lose the baby to miscarriage after his death.

On February 7, 1959 in Lubbock, Texas Buddy Holly was laid to rest his promising career gone forever. His music lives on and although there were only a few songs along the way Buddy Holly will always be remembered as one of the pioneers of Rock and Roll. He left us a lot in a short time and established himself in music history forever. Buddy Holly, rock and roll legend, inspired a whole new group of artist including the Beatles. He is truly a rock and roll legend who will never be forgotten.