Birthday: September 7, 1936
Died At Age: 22
Sun Sign: Virgo
Also Known As: Charles Hardin Holley
Born Country: United States
Born in: Lubbock, Texas, United States
Famous as: Singer-songwriter
Height: 6'0" (183 cm), 6'0" Males
Spouse/Ex-: María Elena Holly (m. 1958–1959)
father: Lawrence Odell Holley
mother: Ella Pauline Drake Holley
siblings: Larry Holly, Patricia Lou Holley-Kaiter, Travis Holly
Died on: February 3, 1959
place of death: Clear Lake, Iowa, United States
City: Lubbock, Texas
Cause of Death: Plane Crash
U.S. State: Texas
education: Hutchinson Junior High School, Lubbock High School
Who was Buddy Holly?
Buddy Holly was one of the most influential singer-songwriters of the 1950s. His records conveyed a sense of ‘joie de vivre’ and carried South-Western intonation. Although he was not popular for most part of his life, his music had left an indelible impression in the rock and roll music scene, which was the most popular genre at that time. He was well-versed in a number of musical styles and had become a seasoned performer by the time of his death. Holly was a continuous innovator; he wrote his own music and was among the first to use unconventional studio methods, such as ‘double-tracking.’ During his final months, he also began experimenting with orchestration. His wide range of songs include ‘That’ll Be the Day,’ ‘Peggy Sue,’ and ‘Maybe Baby.’ Apart from music, he is also remembered for his signature horn-rimmed glasses. He deeply influenced ‘The Beatles’ and ‘Hollies.’ Even the ‘Rolling Stones’ had their first major hit with Holly’s ‘Not Fade Away.’ It is believed that he was one of the most important and earliest influences on popular musicians, including Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Elvis Costello, and Steve Winwood.
Childhood & Early Life
Buddy Holly was born Charles Hardin Holley on September 7, 1936, in Lubbock, Texas, USA, to Lawrence Odell and Ella Pauline.
He developed an interest in music when he was in school. He teamed up with his friend Bob Montgomery in 1952 at the ‘Hutchinson Junior High School’ where they studied and formed a musical duo called ‘Buddy and Bob.’
The duo performed at a number of school events and sang harmony duets at local clubs. They became so popular that they were even given a slot at a local radio station for Sunday broadcast.
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Inspired by Elvis Presley’s rockabilly style, Holly soon began to incorporate this style into his own music. He and his friends—Bob Montgomery and Larry Welborn—were later spotted by a Nashville talent lookout and they began recording tunes under the name ‘Buddy Holly and the Three Tunes.’
They officially signed their first record contract with ‘Decca Records.’ He then went on to form his own rock and roll band called ‘The Crickets’ in 1957. Holly was the lead guitarist and also the vocalist of the band.
Among the earliest tracks that the group recorded was ‘That’ll Be the Day’ in 1957. The song’s title was taken from a phrase that John Wayne frequently used in the film ‘The Searchers.’
In November 1957, the band released their debut album ‘The "Chirping" Crickets.’ Meanwhile, he signed a solo deal with ‘Coral Records,’ thus having two recording contracts at the same time.
Till 1958, Holly and ‘The Crickets’ recorded several singles that were featured on a number of famous music charts. He then moved to Greenwich Village in New York City.
In 1958, he released his solo debut self-titled album. One of the singles from the album, ‘Peggy Sue,’ charted in a number of popular countdowns. He then released ‘That’ll Be the Day,’ which turned out to be his last album.
Due to legal and monetary problems, caused upon the band’s disintegration, he unwillingly decided to tour through the Midwest in 1959 with ‘The Winter Dance Party.’ Annoyed with broken-down automobiles in subzero temperatures, he charted a private plane, which crashed shortly after the take-off, killing everyone on board. Buddy was just 22.
‘The "Chirping" Crickets,’ released in 1957, was the debut album of the band ‘The Crickets,’ led by Buddy Holly. ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine has listed the album as one of the ‘500 greatest albums of all time.’ The album featured on the ‘UK Albums Chart’ at fifth position. Two of the album’s singles, ‘That’ll Be the Day’ and ‘Oh Boy,’ became instant hits, featuring at the top 20 in the ‘Billboard Hot 100’ and ‘UK Singles Chart.’
‘Buddy Holly,’ a self-titled album which released in 1958, became extremely popular as it was recorded one year before Holly’s fatal plane crash. The album also features one of his best singles ‘Peggy Sue,’ which peaked at number three on the prestigious ‘Billboard Pop Singles.’
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Awards & Achievements
He was posthumously inducted into the ‘Songwriters Hall of Fame’ in 1986.
He posthumously received a star on the ‘Hollywood Walk of Fame’ on September 7, 2011.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1958, he met a receptionist named Maria Elena Santiago and was instantly attracted to her. He asked her to have dinner with him at ‘P.J. Clarke’s.’ He was so smitten by her beauty that he asked her to marry him on their first date itself. They got married on August 15, 1958, less than two months after their first meeting.
Following their wedding, the couple frequented a number of popular music scenes in New York.
It is said that he was also very keen on learning the flamenco guitar. He was so inspired by Eddie Cochran and Elvis Presley that he also decided to take up acting classes at ‘Lee Strasberg’s Actors Studio,’ hoping that one day he would get a big break in the film industry.
When he charted a private plane to travel to his next tour destination, little did he know that he would soon be breathing his last. The plane, which was also carrying Ritchie Valens, Roger Peterson, and Richardson, crashed shortly after taking-off, killing all on board.
His wife Elena was pregnant at the time of the crash. She suffered a miscarriage soon after hearing the news about his death.
Although his music career had just taken off at the time of his death, he had already influenced a host of upcoming rock and roll bands. With his music, he also managed to bridge the ethnic divide in America.
He was instrumental in making rock and roll music more accessible for all races across the world. His trademark glasses became such a hit that performers like John Lennon and Hank Marvin started wearing similar-looking glasses during their performance.
Don McLean’s ballad ‘American Pie’ was based on Holly and the day of his fatal plane crash. The album ‘American Pie’ is also dedicated to Holly.
His life and experiences inspired a Hollywood film titled ‘The Buddy Holly Story,’ which released in 1978. Other film and musical depictions include ‘La Bamba,’ ‘Buddy—The Buddy Holly Story,’ and ‘The Day the Music Died.’
Memorials in his honor include a statue of him at Lubbock’s Walk of Fame, a street in his name, and ‘The Buddy Holly Center.’
This popular American singer-songwriter’s last name was originally spelled ‘Holley,’ but was misspelled as ‘Holly’ in his first contract. He never bothered to change the spelling and started using Holly as his stage name.