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Charles Hardin Holley, 7 Sept 1936 - 3 Feb 1959


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Charles Hardin Holley [buddy Holly]

7 September 1936 - 3 February 1959


Today, 46 years after the man left us, I thought I'd talk a bit about Buddy Holly, one of the people who was at the helm of this nonsense called 'rock and roll music' we all love so much. I'm a big Holly fan, and feel the need to live up to my handle every so often by preaching about his excellence, as well as his importance. Get me talking about music history - Buddy Holly particularly - and I could ramble for hours, but I'll try to keep it short.

Buddy Holly's importance can't be measured in blistering guitar solos, wrecked hotel rooms, heartbroken groupies, or near-death overdoses. He was here and gone before all that became fashionable. In order to understand his importance, you have to understand the time during which he so quickly rose to fame. For all of its shortcomings (hell, the whole thing can be called one big shortcoming), the 1978 movie The Buddy Holly Story (you may remember Gary Busey's toothy portrayal) does a fine job of portraying the situation that Buddy found himself in as a teenager: born and raised in the small conservative town of Lubbuck, Texas, all Holly ever wanted to do was rock, though the term hadn't even been coined yet, much less defined. He knew he was drawn to 'black' music; on clear nights he could hear New Orleans on the radio, and soaked in the Fats Domino sound. Being immersed in Texan culture, though, meant his daytime music was county and western. His large family was comprised mostly of musicians, and among his siblings he counted guitar players, fiddlers, pedal steelers and piano players alike.

Without getting into the extensive details, Holly came to merge the two styles - creating the infant form of rock and roll music - and was arguably the first to do so; at the very least, he was one of a few pioneers.

But this is not the sum total of Holly's contributions. When he was negotiating his first record contract with the Decca label [a petty one, offering a petty sum, from which he was bought out less than halfway through the term], he was told by the label that they were interested only in his songwriting services, and not his performing services, nor the performing services of his newly-formed band The Crickets. Songwriters don't perform their own songs, he was told. That's why we hire talent scouts and producers, to find the best talent and match our songwriters' songs to the best-suited performer. Besides, you'll never make any kind of real music with just your guitar, and a bass, and a little drumkit. Not to mention those dorky glasses you insist on wearing...

There are conflicting stories as to what transpired at the final recording session involving Buddy and hotshot Decca producer Owen Bradley. It's safe to say, though, that either vocally, physically, or otherwise, Holly gave Bradley and the whole Decca label a big fat "fu�k you", packed his band into a car, and went to record at a tiny studio in New Mexico.

Are you glad that all you need to rock is a guitar, a bass, and a drumkit? Thank Buddy Holly. Are you glad that anyone, even the biggest loser you know, can make relevant rock and roll music if they want to? Thank Buddy Holly.

Are you glad for rock and roll music? fu�k, I sure am. I'd be bored to tears without it. And for paving the way for absolutely EVERYBODY after him, I thank Buddy Holly.

Here's to ya, Buddy. Gone but not forgotten.

For anybody interested, I've thrown 7 tunes online for download. Normally I can't dig on downloading, but I think in this case, the recordings are extremely old and having people dig the sound is more important. So, if you're interested, download these 7. My favourites are Looking for Someone to Love and It's So Easy, the guitar playing on both is awesome. Most of the tunes are around 2 minutes each. Enjoy.

EDIT: Updated links to the tunes in my new post below

Edited by Guest
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Thanks for that Rev - I appreciate the downloads too - I haven't listened to Buddy in too too long.

I too am a Buddy Holly fan --- started as a very young child... in fact, for a time in the early 80s, I was convinced that I was Buddy Holly reincarnated :: I know, I was a freak. I think that was my way of communicating that I felt a real connection to the music. Anyway, thanks for the post - these tracks and the reminder of the man made my day.

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Right on, Dr J.

Mooose, that's wild, because I was exactly the same. I mean, I don't know if I knew what reincarnation was, but I was insane about Buddy in that same way. I've always said that my love for rock and roll stems from the fact that I was introduced to rock and roll in the same way that the world was so many years ago. As a really young kid, I remember hearing nothing but oldies; we had some sort of compilation tape that was always on in the car, featuring Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Platters and a few others, so that was my introduction. Then, when I was 6, we got a call one afternoon/evening from my aunt, who had a friend who was in promotions for the Mirvish companies. There was a pair of seats to see the Buddy Holly Story (the stage production) that night at the Royal Alex, and did we want them? So I went with my mom, and literally had my mind blown for the first time. I remember actually dancing in the aisles with my mom, it was a blast. I took home the playbill and studied it like crazy, I was obsessed. A couple years later I went away to overnight camp, and I brought four tapes with me: Buddy Holly Lives, Buddy Holly: 20 Golden Greats, The Buddy Holly Story, and Buddy Holly's Greatest Hits [just four different compilations]. I was 8 years old, my counsellors thought I was nuts. There are pictures of me dressed as Buddy Holly on Halloween, next time I'm at my parents' house I will scan them and dig up this thread.

Anyway, glad I could bring him back into your mind today. I forgot to mention, the second pic above is from a show on Buddy's last tour, the Winter Dance Party 1959. January 31st, 1959 at the Duluth, Minnesota Armory, to be exact; his third-last show. Playing bass on the left is 17-year-old Waylon Jennings. Here are a couple more pictures I dug up on the net:


UK tour 1958


UK tour 1958


January 30th, 1959 in Ft. Dodge, Iowa

his fourth-last show

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