Rave on, Buddy Holly
It was 50 years ago tonight – technically 1 a.m. February 3rd – – that the plane carrying rock ‘n’ roll luminaries Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper went down in Iowa. All three musicians and the small plane’s pilot died.
Who doesn’t like Buddy Holly’s music? It’s a blueprint for every rock ‘n’ roll song written after him. Buddy wrote about girls and good times. Five decades later, it’s still the essence of pop music.
UPDATE: Via the Tampa Calling blog, here’s heartbreaking audio of a 1957 phone call Buddy made to an executive at his former label, Decca Records. The crux of the conversation: Buddy’s just been dropped from the label and he’s trying to buy back some material the label never released, including the song “That’ll Be The Day.” The Decca exec tells him plainly, no. He can’t have his songs. They belong to Decca. It’s pretty sad stuff, but through his frustration, Buddy remains polite.
Buddy did rerecord “That’ll Be The Day” later that year and schemed up a way to avoid Decca’s wrath: he had to record the song under a name other than his own to fly under Decca’s radar. And the thus, the birth of The Crickets. Here’s the ironic part, when execs at Decca heard The Crickets’ version, they re-signed Buddy and his band, unaware that they had already signed him. (The real story is a bit more convoluted than that, but essentially that’s what happened).
The most wonderful part? “That’ll Be The Day” shot to number one on the pop charts and Buddy got to enjoy stardom. Briefly.
It’s a testament to Buddy’s talent that 50 years later, we know his songs by heart.