February 3, 1959
That’s “the day the music died” according to Don McLean’s 1971 hit “American Pie.” The cryptic lyrics of the song refer to the Buddy Holly, a native of Lubbock, Texas, who has been hailed as “the single most influential creative force in early rock and roll.”
Charles Hardin Holley was born in Lubbock, Texas on September 7, 1936–the fourth child of Lawrence and Ella Holley…but that’s not the name we remember. His family started calling him “Buddy”, and the name stuck. THAT’s the name we remember: Buddy Holly. (When he got his first shot as a recording artist, the record company accidentally misspelled his name–dropping the ‘e’–in his contract. Buddy just signed it, and that stuck, too.) That first contract didn’t bring the fame he hoped for, but the next one did!
Skyrocketing to fame, Holly scored hit after hit for about a year and a half before his life was cut short at the age of 22 in a tragic plane crash outside Clear Lake, Iowa that also killed pilot Roger Peterson as well as fellow musicians Ritchie Valens, and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson.
Fortunately the music of Buddy Holly is still very much alive…and will likely live forever. You may be surprised at how many of his hits you recognize over 55 years after his passing!
Have a listen, and if you’re ever in Lubbock, visit the Buddy Holly Center!
That’ll Be the Day