In 1936, Lubbock, Texas would welcome one of the Rock & Roll greats in
Charles Hardin Holley. The love for music and in making a career out of it was
always in this youthful lad who at the age of 5 dominated a local talent show.
It would be the first paying gig he would have as he earned the $5 prize money
for his gifted vocals. This wouldn't be the end of his passions with music.
Rock & Roll started from Rockabilly and pulls from rich roots in Gospel, Folk,
Country, R&B, Marching music, and Big Band music. Many artists in the 50's often
used one of these as a foundation for their music considering that Rock & Roll
was still a fledgling genre. Elvis Presley leaned heavily on Gospel in his early
career and Buddy Holly fell for this vise as well in holding closely to Country
music in his early years of Rock & Roll. The fault in this was that his heart wasn't in Country, it was
in Rock & Roll. Sometimes we need someone looking outside of the situation to
shed light to our faults. For Buddy Holly he found this in the sagely advice of
Elvis during one of the acts where he was opening for him. Elvis had suggested
to shed the Country and embrace more of what was in Rock & Roll. In other words,
lose the Rockabilly roots and forge into this new genre without the strings that
many artists harbor as a lifeline. It was bold advice where Buddy Holly would
have to cut the cord and make a leap of faith in himself and his skills as an
artist. He took the leap and his trailblazing path began.
During this time of transformation in 1956/1957, a label made a clerical error
in Buddy's name spelling it without the "e" (Holley), it was a change that he
adopted and never looked back. These early years were a massive metamorphosis
for Buddy Holly and the change in name was fitting.
All the changes that came about, Buddy Holly's band needed a renaming as well. As Buddy
and his band mates were often practicing in the garage, they found in their recordings the
sounds of crickets on them. This ironically would be the inspiration in naming
the band, hence, Buddy Holly and The Crickets were born. During this time, Buddy
Holly and The Crickets would enjoy a streak of top tier hits. This would start
with That'll Be The Day and would care on with songs such as Peggy and
Oh Boy. Buddy Holly wrote all of his music, but due to contractual
agreements had to give partial credit to the band's producer.
The multiple authorship credits to the music Buddy Holly wrote would be hard on him.
He found that he had multiple people involved in dictating what he could compose and
couldn't. This was too many hands in Holly's creative Cookie Jar. In 1958, Buddy
Holly would sever ties with his producer and The Crickets. The divorce of sorts
was a legal nightmare for Buddy Holly that would drain on his financial reserves
so heavily that he was forced to sign on a winter tour. It would be this
frigid tour that would be the final chain of concerts that Buddy Holly would have and the music
world felt the shockwaves of his passing. He was only 22 years old when he died
on February 3rd, 1959. He was survived by his sweetheart and wife, Maria Elena
Many have wondered what would have happened if Buddy Holly hadn't died. In
recent interviews, Bob Dylan admitted that if Buddy Holly had lived, he would
have chosen Rock & Rock over Folk and Folk Rock music. Today, Bob Dylan is seen
as the greatest song writer of all the Rock genres, and he viewed Buddy Holly
as someone that was at his level. If Dylan's expert opinion is to be taken for
its own merit, we would have had two of the top tier singers and song writers in
one genre working to elevate the genre. This would have likely made Rock & Roll
an even more dominant force in the music world with the US being the capital of
the global world of music.
Some will dispute that Elvis is the one and only true King Of Rock, and they may
be right. The one factor that has been seen in other artists is that an musician
can be great with impressive vocals, but to compose their own music tends to
make is more intimate to the performer. In this one respect, for many musicians
the song is a slice of their heart that they perform and share to their fans.
That is where Bob Dylan was able to raise his performances to a standard few
could match, and Buddy Holly was another that shined in this respect as well.
In the death of Buddy Holly we lost a great song writer and had another that
forged a direction in a different genre. In this respect, On February 3rd, 1959
the world lost the chance to have two Princes of Rock & Roll and the legacy they
could have made beyond what they already have.
Charles Hardin Holley
September 7th, 1936 - February 3rd, 1959