One of the first major rock ‘n’ roll ground breakers and also one of its most influential artists. He wrote his own songs, recorded with a self-contained guitar/ bass / drums combo and changed the image of what a rock ‘n’ roll singer should look like. His bespectacled image became iconic.
Despite a relatively brief carrier, tragically cut short on 3rd February 1959 (aka “the day the music died”), when the plane he was in crashed in Clear Lake, U.S.A. Holly was killed along with Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper who were also on board - Holly changed the face of popular music.
He was one of the first heroes of rock ‘n’ roll. Decades later his legend lives on and his music continues to be heard on radio around the globe. His musical influence as a singer/songwriter on musicians and songwriters of the generations that followed was immense. Inspiring many of the artists that were to emerge in the 60s and 70s, from The Beatles, and Bob Dylan to The Hollies. Later singer / songwriter Elvis Costello had a look and sound that was obviously Holly inspired.
Holly as a child had learned to play guitar, violin and piano, having formal lessons whilst teaching himself boogie-woogie rhythms on the piano. At the age of twelve he was already entertaining family and friends with Hank Williams songs and a little later formed a bluegrass duo, Buddy & Bob, with friend Bob Montgomery. Age 15 Buddy began singing and playing guitar at several clubs around the southwest, and then went to Nashville, Tennessee, where he was signed to a recording contract. At 21 Buddy with his unique singing style he became the founder, lead singer and guitarist of the fast rising group The Crickets. In addition to his vocal and instrumental talents, Buddy also flourished as a songwriter / composer on his own and in collaborations with the likes of Norman Petty and Jerry Allison. Indeed, ten of the thirty-one tracks on this collection have Buddy Holly writing credits.
‘Peggy Sue’ reached number 6 in the UK charts in December 1957 the first of twenty plus hits to chart in Britain, most of them posthumously. Indeed in a two-year period, they recorded songs that have endured as some of the finest example of rock ‘n’ roll. In addition to ‘Peggy Sue’ you would have to mention; ‘It’s So Easy’, ‘Rave On’, ‘Maybe Baby’, ‘Oh Boy!’, ‘Not Fade Away’ and the wonderful ‘That’ll Be The Day’ – all featured on EPs from that era and all are included in this collection along with other fine rocking tunes. This fact makes these tracks featured on those wonderful four track EPs a real treat and a great listen. These mini affordable four track LPs were hugely popular in the mid/late fifties before the vinyl albums of the sixties changed how the young bought their music.
The Buddy Holly story has been well visited on many an occasion, but you can’t help but wonder how remarkable that an artist could leave this list of high calibre songs behind at the age of only 22. Just what would he have contributed to the approaching sixties and indeed the decades to come had he lived? I would say he was probably the single biggest influence on post war music.
Buddy Holly was one of the first singer songwriters, writing his own material and also producing his later songs. Paul McCartney would be the first to say that Buddy Holly’s melodies and arrangements were a huge influence on The Beatles.
Buddy may have had his career tragically cut short, and he may have come from a humble background, born in a small town in Texas, but his legend and influence lived on as an artist and songwriter for grateful generations of musicians and fans.