Today we visit Lubbock, Texas home of the legendary Buddy Holly. While his career was brutally short, his music is eternal.
Buddy Holly was born Charles Hardin Holley on September 7th, 1936 in Lubbock, Texas. He would later drop the final ‘e’ on his name because Holly looked better on the marquee. To this day this fact still confuses fans who visit his grave as the headstone still has the original spelling on his name. Like Elvis Presley, Holly was born into a family who loved music, and Buddy Holly listened to a lot of R&B, country and gospel records which strongly infused his style.
Holly and a friend of his from high school were performing locally when they got their first big break and opened for Elvis Presley when he did a concert in Lubbock. Presley was so impressed with Holly that he asked him to open for him two more times. Elvis also impressed Holly to pursue a career in music.
What really set Holly apart from many other white musicians at the time (including Elvis) was that Holly wrote and often produced his own music. At the time, if you were a white performer, the record companies would frown on someone writing their own music. The record company was trying to sell an image, and they had professional songwriters on retainer that would write songs that coincided with that image. African-American singers usually had to rely on writing their own music or that of other black performers. This actually would work in their favor in the long run because writing your own music meant royalties. Holly’s decision to buck the system and perform original material strongly influenced future superstars like Bob Dylan and Lennon-McCartney to do the same. Paul McCartney has said several times that Buddy Holly was a greater artistic inspiration to him than anyone else.
Holly’s professional career lasted only two years. In that time he recorded his best know hits “That’ll be the day”, “Peggy Sue”, and “Raining in my heart”. He also recorded several songs that later become hits for others such as “It’s so easy” which became a hit for Linda Rondstat and “True Love Ways” which I had the pleasure of singing to my parents at their 50th wedding anniversary celebration.
In a future post, we will visit Clear Lake, Iowa site of Holly’s last show and explore in more detail his life and music as well as be finding out more of the other musicians who perished on the “Day the music died”.