by Robert Wilkinson
In the beginning of Rock and Roll, there were 5 major influences that set every seminal element into motion. Bill Haley came first in 1954 with Rock Around the Clock. A duo of black men arrived in 1955 who jump started everything. Chuck Berry gave the form its licks and some of its most memorable tunes, while Little Richard, piano wild man, dished out immortal tunes plus an overt sexuality. Elvis arrived in a blaze of electric glory, the world's first superstar who brought rockabilly to white America and had them screaming and fainting in the aisles. Then there was Buddy Holly, who came out of West Texas and changed the face of popular music forever. Today we wish him a very grateful Happy Birthday for being here such a short time and giving us so much forever. Rare audio and video clips below.
It is impossible to state the effect Buddy had on pop music. He was the first major pop star to compose AND perform his own music, and was hugely prolific in his songwriting. He was a creative genius who with Norman Petty produced and arranged his own music, almost unheard of in those days. He expanded the scope and depth of rock's musical parameters in his compositions. The man who made the Stratocaster THE guitar to play if you were a rock and roller, it is part of pop history that when he went down in a plane crash at 22, it was "the day the music died."
On February 2, 1959, at Clear Lake Iowa, the legend of rock and rollers dying young was set into motion. His career only lasted from the Spring of 1957 to February 1959. Though he was only here for a short time, his tunes are still considered among the finest every written.
A brief list: "Peggy Sue," "Maybe Baby," "Not Fade Away," "It's So Easy," "Well Alright," "Words of Love," "Every Day," "Rave On," "True Love Ways," "Learning the Game," "Lookin' for Someone to Love," "You Know Love's Made A Fool of You," "That'll Be the Day," and many, many more. His songs have been done by dozens of the top artists in music history, including the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, Linda Ronstadt, Blind Faith, and many others.
And now it's time for the party! I got as many rare clips as I could, since it's easy to get the studio versions of Buddy's songs through many releases.
First, here's a treat! A live video clip of Buddy. For your enjoyment, Buddy Holly Live Performing "Peggy Sue" at the Paramount Theater Arthur Murray Dance Party in NYC, 1959
Here's a great clip! Buddy on the Ed Sullivan show January 26, 1958 doing an awesome performance of Oh Boy!
Here's a brief home movie of Buddy and the Crickets meet Elvis very early in both's careers with voice over explaining how this historic moment came to be.
Unfortunate, back in the 50s we didn't have widespread video technology, so there are really aren't many videos out there. But there are quite a few sound recordings that are fairly rare, so I thought I'd give them to you here. Most are accompanied by pictures of Buddy and his various band mates, and some are done really well. Have a blast tripping through the past via pictures from another time and era in our world, the late 1950s. All of these songs were written by Buddy, so enjoy!
Here's a live audio recording of "Peggy Sue" from London done March 2, 1958.
Here are studio versions of five of his best known songs with pictures:
"Well All Right" (which became a hit for Blind Faith).
Here's an alternate Crickets version of Love's Made A Fool of You
Now for some early demos!
A demo of "Words of Love" (which became a Beatles standard)
The next two, not so well known, were released at the same time when Buddy was at the height of his career.
A demo of "Learning the Game (When it starts put it on pause and let it load for a couple of minutes or it'll stop frequently during the performance).
This one is very rare. It's an early demo of "Dearest" (which doesn't have a clear songwriting credit, but seems to have much in common with the 1957 Mickey and Sylvia hit "Love Is Strange").
Here is Buddy performing some songs he didn't write. These were all rock and roll standards done by many in those days.
An early demo version of "Mona," Spring 1957, very early in his career.
Demo of "Smokey Joe's Cafe," January 1959.
On a related note or two, here are the guys that went down with him.
Here's a video of The Big Bopper live lip synching "Chantilly Lace" on American Bandstand.
Here's a rare audio clip of Richie Valens doing "La Bamba" live!
In a interview that runs almost 7 minutes, Tommy Allsup tells of the coin flip with Ritchie Valens. Tommy was Buddy's guitar player in that phase of his career, and on the Winter tour that killed Buddy. His is the classic solo on "It's So Easy." Waylon Jennings (yes, THAT Waylon!) was the bass player, and as per the legend he had given up his seat on the plane to the Big Bopper, who had the flu. What is not so known is that Tommy had the 3rd passinger seat. Richie was not supposed to be on the plane. How did Richie Valens become part of history? Check out the clip.
Here are a trio of radio interviews with Buddy:
Radio interview with Buddy by Alan Freed. He was the New York DJ that made sure that Rock and Roll would not be strangled in its cradle.
Radio interview with Buddy in Vancouver, October 23, 1957.
A Radio interview with Buddy Holly by Freeman Hover
Here are a few video performances of Buddy's music:
Paul McCartney doing a video acoustic solo of "Words of Love."
Paul McCartney doing a video acoustic solo of "Peggy Sue"
An MTV Linda Ronstadt live performance of "It's So Easy." (When it starts put it on pause and let it load for a couple of minutes or it'll stop frequently during the performance).
Copyright © 2008 Robert Wilkinson