Music Review: Buddy Holly

February 3, 2009

Today, on the 50th anniversary of the Day the Music Died, I’ve been listening to a lot of Buddy Holly.

Buddy Holly changed the world of music in a huge way, but it’s something that tends to be forgotten in the wake of his tragic death.

His career was surprisingly short; Charles Hardin Holley of Lubbock, Texas, recorded a handful of hits over an 18-month period before he died in the plane crash that also killed Richie Valens and the Big Bopper. (His last name was misspelled on his first contract, so he kept it, along with his childhood nickname). He and his band, the Crickets, cracked the racial divide in an unusual way; rather than making black-oriented music for white audiences (The Elvis concept), the Crickets played Harlem’s Apollo Theatre and won over that audience with their music.

But crossing the colour barrier wasn’t Holly’s biggest impact on popular music. He did something else, something new and, at the time, unheard of: he wrote and sang his own songs. The Crickets bypassed the hit-writing factories that were the established system at the time, and rocketed up the charts with songs Holly wrote and pushed on label executives. So songs like That’ll Be The Day, Peggy Sue, Every Day and Rave On went to listeners the way their writer intended.

Holly paved the way for the singer-songwriters of the 1960s and established a model of modern music that’s prevalent to this day. And, 50 years later, we’re still snapping our fingers to his perfect, perfect music.


One comment

  1. I didn’t realize it was the anniversary. Everything else aside, his music was rockin’. I always wonder what he would have done musically if he was with us longer.

    Thank you for putting this tribute together.

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