remembering Buddy Holly

Whatever Happened to Peggy Sue  lyrics by Sir Tim Rice, music by Bobby Vee and the Vees

This past week marked the 54th anniversary of the death of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and The Big Bopper.    When I was starting out, I never really listened to Buddy Holly, other than “That’ll Be the Day” occasionally on the radio.   When I had my first band, we were Beatles worshippers, studying their records like textbooks.   A guy a bit older than me stopped by my family’s burger joint where I was making ice cream cones and said, “You know, they learned a whole lot from Buddy Holly.”  I thought, “Yeah, sure.”     A few years later I somehow ended up with a greatest hits reissue album.   Changed my life, changed my idea of history.  Buddy  –  and very importantly  –  his band the Crickets  –  Jerry Allison, Joe B. Mauldin, Nikki Sullivan  –  were smart guys out in the middle of nowhere who happened to have access to a recording studio a few hours aways, a creative engineer/producer, Norman Petty  –  and nobody looking over their shoulders.   With imagination and time to experiment, they pretty much invented the recording studio as a place to create, rather than just document music.   The songs are simple and cool, the arrangements really thoughtful, the shaping of the sound by using (mis-using) EQ, reverb, doubling  –  those guys did it first.

My wife and I got to go to the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake Iowa 4 years ago for the 50th anniversary of Buddy’s final show.   At the stroke of midnight, all the lights went out, and over the sound system came Buddy’s voice, “Just you know why. . .”

And I grabbed Michele and we slow danced.  As did everyone else.

Thanks Buddy.

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