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Holly, Buddy  

Michael Butler

(b Lubbock, TX, 7 Sept 1936; d Clear Lake, IA, 3 Feb 1959). American rockabilly guitarist, singer, and lyricist.

As a child he took guitar, violin, and piano lessons and was exposed to many musical styles, including country and western, gospel, bluegrass, and rhythm and blues. Each influenced his later recordings. As a teen he became known throughout western Texas for his unique voice, songwriting skills, and live performances. In 1955 he signed a recording contract with Nashville’s Decca, but left within a year because of creative differences. Holly returned to Texas where he opened for acts such as Bill Haley and His Comets and Elvis Presley. After their 15 October 1956 concert, Presley suggested that Holly focus more on rock as his primary style, rather than country and bluegrass. It was a suggestion that changed Buddy Holly’s career.

In 1957 Holly and his band, the Crickets, recorded “That’ll Be the Day” for Brunswick Records. The single, Holly’s first, topped station playlists across the United States and represented his transformation from country crooner to rock and roll pioneer. During the same year Holly and the Crickets recorded “Maybe Baby,” “Not Fade Away,” “Oh Boy,” and “Peggy Sue.” The group became the first all-white band to play Harlem’s Apollo Theater, and in ...