Jerry Allison, Last of Buddy Holly’s Crickets, Dead at 82

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Buddy Holly and the Crickets in 1958 (top to bottom): Jerry Allison, Buddy Holly, Joe B. Mauldin (Photo from Allison’s Wikipedia page)

Jerry Allison, whose drumming as a member of the Crickets powered the influential rock ’n’ roll of Buddy Holly, died today (Aug. 22, 2022). The place and cause of death have not yet been revealed. Allison, who was the last surviving member of the original group, was 82.

Allison’s death was confirmed by the official Buddy Holly Facebook page, which posted:

“Our sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Jerry ‘JI’ Allison, drummer in The Crickets, one of Buddy’s very closest friends, and the inspiration to drummers for decades since, who passed away today at the age of 82. JI was a musician ahead of his time, and undoubtedly his energy, ideas and exceptional skill contributed to both The Crickets, and rock ’n’ roll itself, becoming such a success. Buddy is often heralded as the original singer-songwriter, but JI, too, wrote and inspired so many of the songs that would go on to be eternal classics. There’s more to be said and posted here in the coming days. For today, we think about his family and friends and wish JI to rest in peace.”

Holly died on Feb. 3, 1959, at age 22, in a famous plane crash that also took the lives of young rockers Ritchie Valens and JP “The Big Bopper” Richardson. Crickets bassist Joe B. Mauldin Jr. died in 2015. Rhythm guitarist Niki Sullivan, who left the group after its first year together, died in 2004. Following Holly’s death, the Crickets continued to perform with other artists, into the current century.

Jerry Allison

Jerry Ivan Allison was born Aug. 31, 1939, in Hillsboro, Texas. He had been playing drums with other local outfits when Holly put the Crickets together in 1957. Producer Norman Petty, at his studio in Clovis, N.M., cut the group on such now-cornerstone tracks as “That’ll Be the Day,” “Not Fade Away” and “Maybe Baby.” Some of the recordings were issued under the name The Crickets while others were credited solely to Holly, although the members of the Crickets were involved.

In 1958, Holly moved to New York and the Crickets stayed in Texas. He was on tour in the Midwest in early 1959 (with future country giant Waylon Jennings in his backup group) when the plane crash occurred.

Related: First-hand recollections of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper

The Crickets continued, backing the Everly Brothers on their first U.K. tour, backing Bobby Vee and others in the studio, and releasing recordings under their own name, with additional musicians such as Sonny Curtis, Glen D. Hardin and Jerry Naylor serving with the group at various times. In 1970, Allison and Curtis worked with Eric Clapton on the guitarist’s debut solo album.

Allison remained with the Crickets—who influenced the Beatles and countless other rock groups—throughout the lifetime of the group. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012 as a member of the Crickets. Allison announced the group’s dissolution in 2016.

Watch Buddy Holly and the Crickets perform “Peggy Sue” on The Ed Sullivan Show

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  1. Da Mick
    #1 Da Mick 23 August, 2022, 00:45

    Don Stroud was an excellent casting choice for Jerry in “The Buddy Holly Story,” and even copped his mannerisms while playing drums.

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