Buddy Holly: Well All Right!

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Photo of Buddy Holly courtesy of Universal Music Group

Photo of Buddy Holly courtesy of Universal Music Group

It’s almost impossible to gauge the shock waves that followed the death of Buddy Holly on February 3, 1959, in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa. Holly—who perished along with Ritchie Valens (“La Bamba”) and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson (“Chantilly Lace”)—was the first major rock ’n’ roll star to die, just 22 years old. His passing triggered a reality check of epic proportions—rock itself, less than a decade old, had always been about youth, vitality and rebellion. Now cold reality had intruded. In the coming decades, we’d become accustomed to losing our heroes, from Jimi and Janis to Bowie and Prince. But in 1959, the very concept of death visiting upon rock ’n’ roll was still an alien one, numbing and inconceivably unfair.

Buddy Holly was born on September 7, 1936. What hurts most now is the knowledge that he was only getting started. We hear his influence on everyone from the Beatles and Rolling Stones, both of whom covered his songs (“Words of Love” and “Not Fade Away,” respectively), to more contemporary artists, but what we mourn more than anything is what might have been. Holly was not just another kid with a guitar: He was a trendsetter. He wrote and produced his own music, led his own band (one of the first to use the now-standard two guitars, bass and drums configuration), experimented in the studio with instrumentation, technology and so much more. We have to wonder: Where would he have gone musically? And what pains us is that we’ll never know.

Related: Looking back at Buddy Holly’s “That’ll Be the Day”

Fortunately, Holly left behind a significant body of work considering he was only active for a handful of years. Much of it sounds as fresh today as it did more than a half-century ago and all of it is still available to us.

Gone but not forgotten, Buddy Holly!

Watch Buddy Holly and the Crickets on The Ed Sullivan Show on Dec. 1, 1957

Related: The Day the Music Died – 1st Hand Recollections of Holly, Valens and the Big Bopper

Well all right!

Related: First-Generation rockers: Who’s still with us?

Best Classic Bands Staff

3 Comments so far

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  1. Rusty
    #1 Rusty 3 February, 2017, 18:22

    The best 2 minute songs ever written–original, distinctive, simple arrangements and hooks that that yank you out of the water and into the boat before you know it. And best of all, they sound as fresh and appealing as the day he recorded them.

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  2. Da Bronx Bomber
    #2 Da Bronx Bomber 7 September, 2022, 01:48

    Today September 7th, is Buddy Holly’s birthday. Integral part of rock n roll you were for the Beatles and the Stones. Rest in Peace, Buddy. That I’ll Be The Day. Whoo, Who.

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  3. 122intheshade
    #3 122intheshade 8 September, 2022, 00:57

    The cool thing is, with digital technology, you can hear a lot of Buddy’s songs now in wonderful, wide stereo.

    There was a cool hologram show a few years ago with “Buddy” and “Roy”.

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