Buddy Holly

It’s fifty years to the day since Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “Big Bopper” Richardson were killed in a plane crash. They were aged between 17 and 28 and Buddy Holly, in particular, was a huge loss to the music world, as this video proves.

The Fifties didn’t fare well in our discussions about the best decade for music. With the Seventies running away with the poll, the era of Buddy and Co. received not a single vote.

Regardless, it’s favourite songs from the Rock and Roll days today, please.

And, if you need cheering up, do have a listen to ‘Chantilly Lace’ and ‘La Bamba’.

Author: FEd

Features Editor of David Gilmour’s official blog, The Blog (‘Features’ previously being its rather naff title), affectionately – or lazily – shortened to ‘FEd’.

60 thoughts on “Buddy Holly”

  1. i think my vote is for the theme from happy days.

    i never really enjoyed buddy holly – my dad likes it – there was something about ‘peggy sue’ that really put me off.

    yes, i remember – bloody awful. :)) 😛

  2. Although I associate myself more with 70s music there is no denying the influence that 1950’s rock and roll played on that era.

    It was ground breaking and John Lennon’s Rock’n’Roll album bears testament to that.

    Didn’t Paul McCartney once buy the rights to Buddy Holly’s music?

  3. 😀 Hello mates,

    we were… at the gate of rock’s dawn. Unfortunately I’m a very old teenager (50…) but I remember just a far, rough sound with a lot of bump bump… but I hope I’ll improve my culture…

    Sorry FEd, I love my seventies rock and roll for life!

    Do you remember? Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Who, Kinks, Yes, Procol Harum, King Crimson, Vanilla Fudge, PINK FLOYD, the very last Beatles, Frank Zappa, Lou Reed, Eric Clapton, The T. Rex, David Bowie, the very last Doors… it was an ocean of sound.

    I spent my 17/18ys in UK (London, Richmond upon Thames working as a baby sitter) and I loved my music, BUT my daughter (16ys) loves my music too and in her class (High Classic School) pupils studied “the atmosphere” in Dark Side of the Moon… remember: we live in Italy, it’s a miracle!

    A hug from Rome

  4. the era of Buddy and Co. received not a single vote? because we are too scared to say we are old enough to remember perhaps?

    i forgot about the gems he contributed to rock & roll, that’s not a good thing to admit either.

    1. Well, I am certainly not that old – I am not of the 50s era -but I consider Buddy Holly as one of the greats. He was one of the artists which placed the Fender Stratocaster on the map.

      He has come out with a lot of good tunes and his trademark “Yoooouuuu oooo ahooo” is good. Maybe it is a Texan thing. I loved Texas when I lived there in my youth.

      The Beatles would not have produced such good sounds without Buddy Holly too as he was one of their heroes.

  5. Johnny B. Good – Chuck Berry
    No Particular Place to Go – Chuck Berry
    Rock and Roll Music – Chuck Berry
    Roll Over Beethoven – Ch…, hang on I’m spotting a pattern here.

    & Everyday – Buddy Holly.

    1. Lorraine,

      You can play with My Ding-a-ling anytime. 😛

      OK, it’s not from the 50s, but…. 😉

  6. I suppose memories of these early “pioneers” of modern music fade in favour of the music they inspired.

    Despite his very short life he earned an important place in Rock ‘n’ Roll history.

    I recently visited the Beatles museum in Liverpool. There I learned that their name was partly inspired by Holly’s band, the Crickets. Also I discovered that Paul McCartney bought the rights to Buddy Holly’s songs. George Harrison once spoke of the importance of Holly’s influence although none of the Beatles actually saw him perform live.

    The Rolling Stones were also inspired by Holly’s music so much so they recorded “Not Fade Away”.


  7. I have to admit that it took Gary Busey’s stellar performance to really get me into Buddy’s music, but because of that “True Love Ways” has become an all time fav of mine…

  8. Sorry, but I can’t say that I cheered up myself by listening to ‘Chantilly Lace’ or ‘La Bamba’… But surely it’s just me.

    On my local radio station early this morning, they said that The Beatles chose their name in homage to Buddy Holly’s ‘Crickets’. It’s true? What is that, ‘Buddy Holly’s Crickets’?


  9. I love the song Chantilly Lace as well as Fats Domino singing Blueberry Hill.

    The 50s was just a decade of evolution in music. There was quite a bit of good songs that came from that time and it was the basis for what was to come in the 60s.

    As for the tragedy FEd brings up in this post, Don McLean’s American Pie always reminds me of the event. That song is a masterpiece in lyric writing, it’s just too bad that Madonna had to remake it in her own way. For those that don’t know, American Pie was very daring for the time as it was a long song compared to what was typically released. In fact, so long that it was split in two on the 45 single. You would listen to half the song and then turn the record over to listen to the other half. It was quite odd.

    As for Buddy Holly songs, I was always partial to Rave On. But I also like the song Buddy Holly by Weezer.

    By the way, Waylon Jennings was suppose to be on that plane but gave up his seat to the Big Bopper. Must have been one of those after-the-fact, life defining moments for Waylon.



  10. ‘Blueberry Hill’… Great song, that.

    Which version? Fats or Richie Cunningham’s? 😛

    1. Blueberry Hill was one of my favorite songs growing up… and I still have my Chubby Checker “Let’s Do The Twist” LP.

  11. Ya know what got me into Buddy Holly years and years ago? That great film The Buddy Holly Story with Gary Bussey as the late great Buddy. I can watch that movie over and over… what a great biopic!

    I’d have to say, in keeping with this 50th anniversary of such a tragic loss, my favorite song will be a Buddy Holly song I used in my wedding CD: True Love Ways.

    For the record, I recently picked up the latest post mortem release from Buddy, called Memorial Collection. A great 3 CD collection!!

  12. Been a while since I listened to Buddy Holly. Time to put on some CDs, or maybe get that ‘Memorial Collection’ issue.

  13. Total sidebar FEd… but I was reading online ESPN in the hockey section (of course) and Pink Floyd was mentioned in today’s article about the Ottawa Senators and their owner:

    “Reminds us of the title of an old Pink Floyd song, “Careful With That Axe, Eugene.” A word to the wise perhaps? Careful with that team, Eugene. Or is it too late?”

    See you in the chat!

  14. “Rumble” (1958) by Link Wray.

    It’s a great guitar instrumental. I think a lot of the 60ies and 70ies guitar heroes where inspired by this feedback & tremolo drenched surf guitar sound.


  15. I have plenty of memories of the music of the 50s. If not for the rock ‘n’ roll of the 50s, there would have been no Beatles, Rolling Stones, etc.

    Eddie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Buddy Holly, JP Richardson, Ritchie Valens, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, The Coasters, Little Richard, Elvis Presley, The Every Brothers, Roy Orbison–I could go on, and on. All of these break-through artists DID quite literally have to break through the rigid social, religious and racial barriers that were in place.

    American Bandstand, broadcast from Philadelphia back then, was on tv at the same time as Popeye, so there was always a battle (which I always lost) with my nine-years-older sister as to what would be watched. I can honestly say that I’m glad I lost that fight because it instilled in me an absolute love of music which became a lifeline of sorts for me then and in all the years since.

    Favorite songs? Too many to list. But the music of the 50s was and will always be the foundation on which rock ‘n’ roll, in all of it’s various forms, has been built.

    Eddie Cochrane was killed in a car wreck while touring England with Gene Vincent in April 1960. He was only 21, but had already recorded many classics that would later be covered by everyone from The Beatles to The Who. He recorded a song called Three Stars in memory of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the JP Richardson.

    Most of these pioneers didn’t make much money during their careers, unfortunately, but they did change music forever! 🙂

    1. Was Eddie Cochran really just 21 when he died? How sad.

      ‘Summertime Blues’ is a classic, but there were others: ‘C’mon Everybody’, ‘Three Steps to Heaven’…

    2. … I would have named Eddie Cochran for a) his rock and roll songs and b) for “Three Stars”.

      Great musicians, both of them…


  16. The film “I Walk the Line” showed this period very well… with Jerry Lee and Elvis all travelling together to the small gigs along with Johnny Cash and the Carter Family before fame really kicked in!

    …..great stuff!!!!

  17. Seventies music will always be my favorite era, but I really love a lot of fifties music. Runaway by Del Shannon is one of my top ten songs of all time. My wife and I are in a car club that her late father started so we go to quite a few car shows where the fifties are the theme. My mother-in-law will even get into her old poodle skirt she wore as a teenager.

    Other fifties artists I enjoy are the late Buddy Holly, Dion, the Platters, and of course Del Shannon. If not for the music of the fifties Rock and Roll might be a little different today.

    1. FEd, thank you for clarifying that you prefer Del Shannon’s Runaway. Otherwise we might have thought that you preferred to wear poodle skirts. C’mon, that has to make you chuckle a little.



    2. Good point overall, but rock and roll started in the 40s really.

      Del Shannon is also one of my favorite 50s performers, another great one is Gene Chandler of “Duke of Earl” fame. Jan and Dean are really underrated, more known for early 60s surf hits, they pioneered the surf sound in the late 50s with songs like “Baby Talk”.

      Another really underrated early rock and roller is Connie Francis. She pretty much set the groundwork up for other girl singers/girl groups of that same era.

  18. I was always partial towards the twist, Chubby Checker need not be sad for if one song is all you get then that is a fine one.

    I think sometimes it is difficult to remember who was all working in the 50s because the decade was hyper focused on Elvis; that being said though I don’t know if it was in the 50s but Roy Orbison’s “Only the Lonely” is sublime.

    As for Buddy Holly, I am grateful to him for two things, 1) the Fender Stratocaster (he wasn’t a guitar hero but he helped make the Fender famous and inspired other artists we may be aware of to use one) and 2) as mentioned elsewhere, I am a fan of Death Cab For Cutie; and Buddy paved the way for those guys by allowing “nerds” to be rock ‘n’ roll stars. Opening the door for an untold legion of musicians. Thanks Buddy.

    Thank you very much indeed, good night to you.

  19. I read as well that Paul McCartney owns the rights to Buddy Holly’s catalogue. “True Love Ways” was incredible.

    The movie had Buddy Holly playing a rosewood Strat… that always bugged me a little. However, a great movie.

    It is strange to think Waylon Jennings was supposed to be on that flight. VH1 did a GREAT ‘Behind the Music’ on that whole tragedy @ 10 years ago. It is definitely worth finding. Waylon was very funny.

    Big Bopper’s body was exhumed, by order of his son, and brought to the University of Tennessee in 2007 to prove there wasn’t foul play… that was always a rumor b/c Holly’s gun was found at the crash site (as was Tommy Alsup’s wallet). Apparently the Bopper’s son has been really haunted by it all of his life and finally wanted the rumors put to rest. The Bopper’s (I love saying “The Bopper”) original casket was sold on EBAY! Gross!

    Blake in Nashville

  20. My knowledge of 50s music is really poor.

    I know “La Bamba” and I like it and I certainly have heard a lot of 50s songs somewhere sometime in the past, but I never known their titles or authors.

    In general, I find that kind of sounds and rhythms quite cheering, but I’ve always been too busy with the following decades of music. 😀

    I love music because there is always something new to discover.

  21. It should also be noted that Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens were among those instrumental – no pun intended – in taking the saxophone’s crown away as Rock ‘n’ Roll’s “King” solo instrument, and placing it (rightfully) on the guitar (apologies to Mr. Dick Parry). Add Chuck Berry (The True King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, in my book), Carl Perkins, Eddie Cochran, Link Wray, Hank Marvin, Duane Eddy, and a few others to the mix, and the guitar itself became Rock’s iconic weapon.

    It’s hard to imagine if the Beatles, Stones, Who, Yardbirds, Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, etc. would have even existed without those influences.

    Favorite 50s songs? “Nadine”, “Maybelline” (Chuck Berry), “Blueberry Hill”, “Walking to New Orleans” (Fats Domino), “Rebel Rouser”, “Peter Gunn Theme” (Duane Eddy), but that’s just today, tomorrow may be different.

    Bill C

  22. Rockin’ Robin by Bobby Day
    Tutti Frutti by Little Richard
    Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On by Jerry Lee Lewis
    That’ll Be The Day by Buddy Holly, of course 🙂
    EARTH ANGEL!!! I think this is by The Penguins… not sure
    Be-Bop-A-Lula… I’m don’t know who did that song…
    Roll Over Beethoven – The Chuck Berry version AND the ELO version :))
    Sh-Boom, Shake, Rattle ‘n Roll… the list could go on and on…

    1. Another fine list.

      As you mentioned Jerry Lee Lewis, how about ‘Great Balls of Fire’? What a song that is.

      By the way, Gene Vincent and The Bluecaps did ‘Be-Bop-A-Lula’, which is also on my list of favourites.

  23. (John Martyn is gone…)

    Sorry to be out of topic, I apologize, I would only remember a big, for me biggest singer-songwriter and guitarist (with David) living till few days ago, John Martyn, who departed at 60 on January 29 (see http://www.johnmartyn.com for info and Condolence Book).

    David collaborated with him on the “Apprentice Tour”, issued as a VHS and DVD, and I hope he will remember him.

    There’s a link to what above, in that my favourite music year was 1977, when I discovered “One World”, splendid disc with splendid voice and guitar sound that I guess David appreciated…

    Ciao John.

    Elio (I apologize if the news was given here but I didn’t find it)

  24. I think the fact that 70s music did so well in our poll is that this is the Blog of a musician whose best known work is from that decade. I was a teen in the 70s and early 80s, listening to then-current music as well as my parent’s music from the 60s. Those decades produced the music that I’m most familiar with. The 1950s? I don’t know that stuff as well. That said, Buddy Holly did some great stuff.

    The anniversary of The Day The Music Died. What a thing.

  25. Thanks for that Blake, I didn’t know that story.

    I was too young for the 50s but love the music since.

    How about:

    Only You – The Platters
    Maybelline – Chuck Berry
    Rags to Riches – Tony Bennett
    Autumn Leaves – R. Williams
    That’s Alright Mama – Elvis

    1. ‘The Great Pretender’ by Freddie, you mean? :/

      Oops, sorry, not from the 50s…

      Just kidding, eh? 😛

  26. Was Eddie Cochran really just 21 when he died? How sad.

    It happened in Chippenham (or Cirencester) in Wiltshire. There is a memorium at the spot where it happened.

  27. The 50s might not be our favorite decade for music (mine neither), but still, isn’t almost all modern music standing on the backbones from that period?

    The essence of 50-rock ‘n roll to me are songs like Good Golly Miss Molly, Tutti Frutti, and Long Tall Sally (Little Richard). Be Bop A Lula is another one. Hound Dog/Elvis was as early as ’52, I think.

    I have to admire the pioneers, that really created the new stuff. Many of the later bands/artists may have refined their stuff to our liking, but that’s more like a natural development. Maggots on a cheese? (Is that an expression?) 😉

    1. Elvis’s version of “Houng Dog” is from 56, a bowdlerized cover of Big Mama Thornton’s version which is from 52. Perhaps that’s what you were thinking of. There was some rock and roll in the late 40s/early 50s, though like “Good Rockin’ Tonight” (1948), “The Fat Man” (1949), “Ragg Mopp” (1950), and “Rocket 88” (1951).

  28. When I grew up in the eighties there were, thanks to movies like Back to the Future, a bit of a 50s revival and so I had the chance to hear much of the music from this time. I think it can not be compared to the decades after it (it’s just too different) but I always enjoyed its optimism. My favourite songs from then are (for the moment) Rock around the Clock, Johnny B. Goode and from Buddy Holly, Peggy Sue.

    But my favourite era will still be the seventies (and the late sixties) because in my opinion, never before or after then was there so much diversity and courage to try out new things in music. When nowadays almost everybody sings in the same style, is strumming the same 2 chords on their guitars and tries desperately not to leave this well travelled road music follows since at least 15 years…

    Without metal there would be very little new music for me.

  29. G’day Fed,

    I wasn’t born when these guys died, that said I do have a Ritchie Valens LP called “Ritchie Valens” and a Buddy Holly LP called “Legend”. Legend is getting a spin at the moment, that’s the first time that live in Gdansk set has been off the turn table since it arrived. (It looks good on DVD but sounds better on vinyl).

    I must have missed the fifties poll because the Richie Valens LP is the ONLY one I have from the Fifties, the Buddy Holly was re-released in 1885 and remastered from the original tapes from 1956 to 1958. My first visit to the blog was after the last great Richard Wright passed away.

    Like I said I wasn’t born when these guys died, but I still respect them.


  30. I must have been 2 years old when Buddy Holly etc. died so I really don’t remember the songs at the time, but as always, great music will always last (more than great haircuts of the day, I’m jealous, that’s all).

    Even if you only know the theme tune to “Heartbeat”, that’s proof enough; my stepson could not believe that that song must be over 50 years old.

  31. On a typical day I pass through a train station that pipes in random tracks. I don’t know what service they subscribe to as the styles of music is so varied – everything from classic rock and disco to lite music and ballads.

    Anyway, last night, while waiting for my train the track La Bamba came on. Contrary to what Michèle stated above, it did cheer me up. Maybe it was just that you raised my awareness on this topic.



  32. Buddy Holly, Hank Marvin, Elvis Presley, and many others… we wouldn’t be here playing our guitars if we didn’t have them, nor big corporations like Fender, Gibson, Gretsch would be so established today.

  33. Buddy Holly influenced just about everyone from rock’s golden era. The first song recorded by The Beatles as The Quarrymen was That’ll Be The Day and such pioneers as The Stones and the Grateful Dead have recorded Buddy’s songs. His music is timeless and will always be a valuable part of American music.

    The Big Bopper’s son now performs his Dad’s work on the club circuit billed as J.P. Richardson Jr. To this day Chantilly Lace is one of my favorite songs.

    As for La Bamba, it wasn’t the greatest film ever made but at least it brought some of Ritchie’s songs back onto radio where they belong. He really opened the door for Hispanics and Mexicans to get their great music heard. It’s just a shame that he didn’t survive to contribute more.

    With the music of these 3 greats still being played on US radio, it’s hard to believe that 50 years has passed since the crash.

  34. Hello FEd and All.

    Really like the new and improved blog place. (I was tickled “Pink” to see me up in the blog photo gallery.)

    How about “Wonderful World” by Sam Cooke (plus all his other songs)?

    50s music was so raw and real. We owe great gratitude to all those super mega talents from way back then for our listening pleasure to this day. What we’ve listened to since then and up until today evolved from their innovations. Guitar chord progressions C, F, G, C, changed the world, so…

    Thanks Buddy, Ritchie and J.P.!!!

  35. For those who didnt watch the footy last there was a great documentary about Buddy Holly on BBC4 last night.

    1. I did watch that documentary and thought it was good. I also learned something new, I did not know that Buddy loved British motorcycles.

      Thanks to you, FEd and all the programmes regarding Buddy Holly I learned ‘Peggy Sue’ on my guitar at a drop of a hat – however the guitar solo was a bit difficult with the galloping chords.

  36. Here are a few classic tracks, not yet mentioned:

    Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers – ‘Why Do Fools Fall in Love’
    The Chordettes – ‘Lollipop’
    The Everly Brothers – ‘Bye Bye Love’
    Larry Williams – ‘Bony Maronie’
    Bobby Vinton – ‘Blue Velvet’
    Chris Montez – ‘Let’s Dance’
    Maurice Williams and The Zodiacs – ‘Stay’
    Marty Wilde – ‘A Teenager in Love’
    The Five Satins – ‘In the Still of the Night’
    The Coasters – ‘Yakety Yak’

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