Is Buddy's Mom Still Alive – This article is about the American musician. For his eponymous album, see Buddy Holly (album). For the Weezer song, see Buddy Holly (song).

Charles Hardin Holley (September 7, 1936 – February 3, 1959), known as Buddy Holly, was an American singer and songwriter who was a pivotal and pioneering figure in rock and roll in the mid-1950s. Born into a musical family in Lubbock, Texas, during the Great Depression, he learned to play guitar and sing with his siblings. Holly’s style was influenced by gospel music, country music, and rhythm and blues acts, which he performed in Lubbock with his high school friends.

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Holly made his first appearance on local television in 1952, and the following year he formed the group “Buddy and Bob” with his fiance Bob Montgomery. In 1955, after opening for Elvis Presley, Holly decided to pursue a career in music. He opened for Presley three times that year; the band’s style shifted from country and western to tired rock and roll. In October of that year, when Holly opened for Bill Haley & His Comets, he was discovered by Nashville scout Eddie Crandall, who helped him land a contract with Decca Records.

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Holly’s recording sessions at Decca were produced by Ow Bradley, who had become known for producing orchestrated country hits for stars such as Patsy Cline. Dissatisfied with Bradley’s musical style and control in the studio, Holly went to producer Norman Petty in Clovis, New Mexico and recorded a demo of “That’ll Be the Day”, among other songs. Petty became the band’s manager and took the demo to Brunswick Records, who released it as a single credited to “The Crickets”, which became the name of Holly’s band. In September 1957, while the band was touring, “That’ll Be the Day” topped the US and UK singles charts. The success was followed in October by another big hit, “Peggy Sue.”

The album The “Chirping” Crickets, released in November 1957, reached number five on the UK Albums Chart. Holly made her second appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in January 1958 and soon after toured Australia and the UK. In early 1959, he assembled a new band, consisting of future country music star Waylon Jennings (bass), famed session musician Tommy Allsup (guitar) and Carl Bunch (drums), and embarked on a tour of the US Midwest. After a show in Clear Lake, Iowa, Holly chartered a plane to travel to her next show in Moorhead, Minnesota. Shortly after takeoff, the plane crashed, killing Holly, Ritchie Vals, The Big Bopper and pilot Roger Peterson in a tragedy later referred to by Don McLean as “The Day the Music Died” in his song “American Pie.”

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During her short career, Holly wrote and recorded many songs. He is often regarded as the artist who defined the traditional rock-and-roll line-up of two guitars, bass and drums. Holly was a major influence on later popular music artists including Bob Dylan, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, The Hollies, Elvis Costello, Dave Edmunds, Marshall Crshaw and Elton John. Holly was among the first artists to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in 1986. Rolling Stone magazine ranked him number 13 on its list of “100 Greatest Artists” in 2010.

Holly was born Charles Hardin Holley (spelled “-ey”) in Lubbock, Texas, on September 7, 1936, the youngest of four children to Lawrce Odell “L.O.” Holley (1901–85) and Ella Pauline Drake (1902–90). His oldest sibling was Larry (1925–2022),

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Holly was mostly of Glish and Welsh descent and also had small amounts of Native American ancestry.

During the Great Depression, the Holleys often moved to live in Lubbock; L. O. changed jobs several times. Buddy Holly was baptized as a Baptist, and the family were members of the Tabernacle Baptist Church.

The Holleys had an interest in music; all the family members except L.O. could play an instrument or sing. The elder Holley brothers performed in local talk shows; on one occasion Buddy joined them on violin. Since he couldn’t play it, his brother Larry greased the bow so it wouldn’t make any sound. The brothers won the competition.

During World War II, Larry and Travis were called up for military service. When he returned, Larry brought with him a guitar he had bought from a shipmate while serving in the Pacific. At 11, Buddy took piano lessons, but dropped out after nine months. He switched to the guitar after he saw a classmate playing and singing on the school bus. Buddy’s parts first bought him a steel guitar, but he insisted he wanted a guitar like his brother. His parts bought the guitar from a pawn shop and Travis taught him to play it.

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During her early childhood, Holly was influenced by the music of Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers, Moon Mullican, Bill Monroe, Hank Snow, Bob Wills and the Carter Family. At Roscoe Wilson Elemtary, Holly befriended Bob Montgomery and the two played together, rehearsing songs by The Louvin Brothers and Johnnie & Jack.

They both listed for the radio shows Grand Ole Opry on WSM, Louisiana Hayride on KWKH and Big D Jamboree. At the same time, Holly played with other musicians he met in high school, including Sonny Curtis and Jerry Allison.

In 1952, Holly and Jack Neal as a duo called “Buddy and Jack” entered a speech contest on a local television show. After Neal left, he was replaced by Bob Montgomery and they were billed as “Buddy and Bob.” They soon began performing on the Sunday Party show on KDAV in 1953 and performed live in Lubbock.

At the time, Holly was influenced by late-night radio stations playing blues and rhythm and blues (R&B). He got into the car with Curtis and tuned in to remote radio stations that could only be received at night, when local broadcasts ceased.

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Holly th modified his music by blending his earlier country and western (C&W) influences with R&B.

In 1955, after graduating from Lubbock High School, Holly decided to pursue a full-time career in music. He was further encouraged after seeing Elvis Presley perform live in Lubbock, whose act was booked by Pappy Dave Stone of KDAV. In February, Holly opened for Presley at the Fair Park Coliseum, in April at the Cotton Club, and again in June at the Coliseum. At the time, Holly had incorporated into his band Larry Welborn on stand-up bass and Allison on drums, as his style shifted from country and western to rock and roll due to seeing Presley’s performances and hearing his music.

In October, Stone booked Bill Haley & His Comets and placed Holley as the opening act to be seen by Nashville scout Eddie Crandall. Impressed, Crandall persuaded Grand Ole Opry manager Jim Dny to seek a recording contract for Holley. Stone has a demo tape, which Dny forwarded to Paul Coh, who signed the band to Decca Records in February 1956.

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In the contract, Decca misspelled Holly’s last name as “Holly”, and henceforth he was known as “Buddy Holly”, instead of his real name “Holley.”

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He attended two more sessions in Nashville, but as the producer chose session musicians and arrangements, Holly became increasingly frustrated with his lack of creative control.

In April 1956, Decca released “Blue Days, Black Nights” as a single, with “Love Me” on the B-side. Dny included Holly on a tour as the opening act for Faron Young. During the tour they were promoted as “Buddy Holly and the Two Tones”, while later Decca called them “Buddy Holly and the Three Tunes.”

The label later released Holly’s second single “Modern Don Juan”, backed with “You Are My One Desire.” None of them made an impression. On 22 January 1957, Decca informed Holly that his contract would not be renewed, but insisted that he could not record the same songs for anyone else for five years.

Holly was unhappy with the results of her time with Decca; Inspired by the success of Buddy Knox’s “Party Doll” and Jimmy Bow’s “I’m Stickin’ with You”, Holly visited Norman Petty, who had produced and promoted both records. Along with Allison, bassist Joe B. Mauldin and rhythm guitarist Niki Sullivan, he went to Petty’s studio in Clovis, New Mexico. The group recorded a demo of “That’ll Be the Day”, a song they had previously recorded in Nashville. Now playing lead guitar, Holly achieved the sound he wanted. Petty became his manager and signed the record to Brunswick Records in New York City. Holly, still under contract to Decca, could not release the record under his name, so a band name was used; Allison suggested the name “Crickets.” Brunswick gave Holly a basic deal to release “That’ll Be the Day”, giving him both artistic control and financial responsibility for future recordings.

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Impressed by the demo, the label’s executives released it without recording a new version. “I’m Looking for Someone to Love” was the B-side; the single was credited to The Crickets. Petty and Holly later learned that Brunswick was a subsidiary of Decca, which legally authorized future recordings under the Buddy Holly name.

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