May 27, 1957: Buddy Holly ‘That’ll Be the Day’ Released

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That'll Be The Day Sheet MusicThe first song by Buddy Holly and his band to hit the charts, credited to simply The Crickets, the 45 (b/w “I’m Looking For Someone to Love”) was a #1 hit on Billboard‘s Hot 100 and also reached #2 on the trade magazine’s R&B chart. After being reissued in 1969 “That’ll Be the Day” was certified gold for sales of one million copies or more.

Its title originated from the John Ford-directed Western movie classic The Searchers, starring John Wayne. After seeing it, Holly and his pals adopted the line used a number of time by Wayne’s character in the film Ethan Edwards as a conversational quip in the days to follow. Eventually Holly and drummer Jerry Allison wrote a song using it as the title. They recorded the number in February of that year in Clovis, NM with producer Norman Petty, who added his name to the copyright though he had no role in its composition.

Here’s an excerpt of their December 1, 1957 performance of the song on The Ed Sullivan Show

“That’ll Be the Day” would be their only #1 hit. It’s been covered many times, most prominently by Linda Ronstadt, who in 1976 released it as a single. Her version reached #11 on the pop charts.

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