Buddy Holly is one of the most prominent names to emerge in the rock and roll music scene during the 1950s. He was a gifted singer and songwriter who was known for his classic sound, heavily influenced by both blues and country music. He was known for writing many of the songs for which he was famous, and producing many of them as well. He was also known as something of an everyman, having been raised by a musically oriented family from Texas at the tail end of the Great Depression.
After making a local television appearance in the early 1950s, Buddy Holly began to slowly rise through the ranks to become a well-known musician. One of his first truly big breaks came in 1955, when he was able to open for Elvis Presley on three different occasions. Holly and his band had previously focused primarily on country and western music, but opening for Elvis inspired their switch to rock and roll. This concentration continued when they later opened for Bill Haley and His Comets, not long after which Holly was able to secure a recording contract.
Buddy Holly was known both on his own and as a member of the Crickets, the band with which he released some of his most popular songs in 1957 such as “Not Fade Away,” “That’ll Be the Day,” and “Peggy Sue” (although the Crickets are not credited for the latter of the three). He also recorded a cover of “Bo Diddley” the year prior, and in 1958 Holly recorded the sequel song “Peggy Sue Got Married,” although it was not released until after his death in 1959. Holly’s songs were simple, but catchy. For instance, “Not Fade Away” only uses two chords, but it has one of the more pleasant melodies of the singles released by Holly and the Crickets. Many of his songs were also unusually short (some of them less than a minute and a half), yet were original enough to be revered by many artists.
Among those who were influenced by Holly’s music was John Lennon of the Beatles. Holly had already died in a plane crash on what was to become known as “The Day the Music Died,” but the Beatles were still listening to his songs and attempting to imitate his style. This is especially noticeable on their first couple of albums, on which they played much catchier melodies and engaged in far less experimentation than they did later on in their career.
The plane crash that killed Buddy Holly (along with other major singers Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson) occurred on the third of February in 1959. Holly was only 22 years of age at the time of his death. The fact that he managed to influence the music industry with only a few years spent truly in the spotlight is a solid testament to his abilities as a songwriter and as a musician. Although he only had time to produce a few hit singles, the sound he created with the Crickets had a lasting impact that reverberated through the rock and roll genre for years to come.
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