The Day the Music Died: Finale – Buddy Holly

03 Feb

1936 - 1959

By now, you know the details of the crash fifty years ago that shocked the music world.  Graham Nash explains it best:

  Graham Nash talks about “The Day the Music Died”

 At 22, the lanky kid from Lubbock, TX  had been re-writing music rules.  At the tender age of 18, Holly had taken the sagging Rock & Roll scene by storm with stark rhythms and the strains of non-traditional instruments.  No hearthrob, Holly’s attraction was purely “the music”.

While Holly was quite a personality, it’s his music that has had the most lasting affect.  Many artists of the 60s and 70s, point to Buddy Holly as a major influence.  A young Robert Zimmerman’s life changed the night he watched Buddy Holly perform on the Winter Dance Party tour in Diluth, MN.  As Bob Dylan, he would also influence generations of music.

Another young American musician influenced by Buddy Holly’s music:

  Oh Boy!, Bruce Springsteen

And, Buddy’s influence casts a long and enduring shadow into modern rock:

  Everyday, Pearl Jam

Holly also had a profound affect across the pond and was a strong catalyst in birthing the British Revolution.

  Not Fade Away, The Rolling Stones

  “Honky Rock”, John Lennon

  Words of Love, Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney is such a Holly-phile that after 1978’s The Buddy Holly Story revealed many inaccuracies, he produced a 1985 documentary, The Real Buddy Holly Story, to set the record straight.  McCartney also owns the publishing rights to Holly’s song catalogue.  Legend has it that The Beatles picked their name as a tribute to The Crickets, Holly’s band.

There are tribute concerts at the Surf Ballroom along with thousands of tributes and accolades across the world today to mark this Golden anniversary.  Holly’s influence is deep and wide.  When you consider his influence on Dylan, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, CSNY, Springsteen, and countless others and their subsequent influence, Holly becomes sort of the metaphorical “source” of the river Rock.  His kun-NECK-shun to the lords and lasses now immortalized in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (of which he is a charter member) is unprecedented, surpassing even Elvis.

Don McLean’s American Pie, as well as Gary Busey’s otherworldly portrayal of Holly in 1978’s The Buddy Holly Story, have helped to keep the Holly legend alive.  Busey channeled Holly so brilliantly that he was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar.

  Final Scene, The Buddy Holly Story

However, perhaps the most fitting tribute to Buddy Holly and his short, yet profound career, are his own performances. 

  That’ll Be the Day

  Maybe Baby

  Peggy Sue (Live)

  True Love Ways

  Raining in My Heart

Forever Young

Forever Young


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8 responses to “The Day the Music Died: Finale – Buddy Holly

  1. peaceelrring

    February 3, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    Well I have respect for this guy and your post. But do you really think that he had such a great influence over music?

  2. music maven

    February 3, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    In a word….absolutely.

    Much of modern Rock (1965 on) was influenced by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young are in there somewhere, as well. These artists were all profoundly influenced by Buddy Holly.

    Buddy Holly influences The Beatles, The Beatles influence U2, U2 influences The Fray, and so on and so on…..

    The degrees of separation are not that large.

  3. Shrewspeaks

    February 3, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    By Little Richard’s definition Rock N Roll was the merger of Gospel, Blues and Country Westrn; Holly and the Crickets blazed the same trail as Jerry Lee Lewis. The difference was Holly’s complete artistry in lyrics combined with this new jangled white version of R&B.

    Look at the contextual complexities in “That’ll Be The Day”. On the surface, this seems like teenage love gone wrong…but a deeper look at the lyrics this is a complex situation of love’s duality.

    Well, that’ll be the day, when you say goodbye
    Yes, that’ll be the day, when you make me cry
    You say you’re gonna leave, you know it’s a lie
    ‘Cause that’ll be the day when I die

    Well, you give me all your lovin’ and your turtle dovin’
    All your hugs and kisses and your money too
    Well, you know you love me baby
    Until you tell me, maybe
    That some day, well I’ll be through

    Well, that’ll be the day, when you say goodbye
    Yes, that’ll be the day, when you make me cry
    You say you’re gonna leave, you know it’s a lie
    ‘Cause that’ll be the day when I die

    Well, when Cupid shot his dart
    He shot it at your heart
    So if we ever part and I leave you
    You sit and hold me and you tell me boldly
    That some day, well I’ll be blue

    This is the type of song crafting that did indeed inspire Lennon & McCartney and Bob Dylan, two major defining rock icons of song writing.

  4. tandjam

    February 4, 2009 at 12:02 am

    My dad is a huge fan and he raised me on Buddy Holly albums. Was I a lucky kid, or what?

    I sure have enjoyed seeing so much of Buddy Holly here and in the media today.

    Rave On…

  5. peaceelrring

    February 4, 2009 at 8:58 am

    I tend to think that Buddy Holly was just a sweet white kid who charmed WASP parents by playing a cool rock and roll when they feared the upcoming black music or awesome teenagers like Elvis or Jerry Lee! When I look at the videos I totally find this atmosphere and nothing close to what was created by the Beatles or the Stones (and where is Led Zeppelin??). Hope my opinion does not shock you. Still thanks for the discovery.

  6. music maven

    February 4, 2009 at 9:20 am

    No, not shocking, just a couple of generations removed. I don’t think parents of that day were charmed by ANY rock and rollers, much less Holly.

    If you watch the video above of his performance of Peggy Sue, there’s a disclaimer by the hostess at the beginning to “give him a chance”.

    The point is The Beatles and The Stones and dare I say, Led Zeppelin were influenced by the songwriting and performing of Holly. While their music didn’t sound exactly like Holly’s, it certainly has underlying similiarities.

    They were also influenced by Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and James Brown. Click here for my aff-FECK-shun regarding Little Richard.

  7. peaceelrring

    February 4, 2009 at 9:36 am

    Great post concerning Little Richard! Gotta say I’m crazy about tutti frutti…
    I’ll try to listen to listen more carefully to Buddy Holly.

  8. Shrewspeaks

    February 4, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Great conversation peaceelrring and MusicMaven! peaceelrring, from what I have seen in documetaries Holly was a real shock to suburban 50’s mainstream becuase he was one of “them” adopting the shocking music of the underground R&B movement of the likes of Little Richard etc. Compare Holly to some of his counterparts on the white charts of the 50’s and it is quickly decerned that Holly was not about sock hops and bubblegum, but a much richer deeper and often sexual meaning. Today, looking back with the knowledge of what came after it is hard to appreciate that Holly was as much as if not more of a rebel and influencer than Led Zepplin…or Cream…or..the Sex Pistols. Holly truely was the first singer/songwriter to break through the “white” noise.


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