Throwback Thursday: Buddy Holly: Rock ‘n’ Roll’s Inspiration

Our Space Buddy HollyBefore The Beatles, Elvis Costello, The Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton ever played, rock ‘n’ roll was revolutionized by Charles Hardin Holley (professionally known as Buddy Holly), an American singer-songwriter whose success was tragically cut short in an airplane crash on February 3, 1959 in Iowa. The deadly plane crash also took the lives of Ritchie Valens (forefather of the Chicano rock movement) and J.P. (The Big Bopper) Richardson. Last month, many people (myself included) got to re-live a part of the 1950’s when “Buddy – the Buddy Holly Story” came to Broadway in Chicago.

The musical told the story of Holly’s rise to fame. The show featured more than 20 hits including “That’ll be the Day,” which was ranked No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart, and “Peggy Sue,” which was originally written as “Cindy Lou” (after Holly’s niece). Holly ultimately changed the song title in recognition of the Crickets (Holly’s band) drummer’s, Jerry Allison, girlfriend.

Our Space Buddy Holly Story CastGrowing up listening to bands that were inspired by Buddy Holly’s music gave me a true appreciation for the man as I watched the Broadway musical. I felt like I was at one of Buddy Holly’s concerts – the experience was all surreal. What surprised me the most was the unforgotten story of the plane crash that claimed the lives of three young rock ‘n’ roll superstars. Ritchie Valens (hailed as “the next Elvis Presley”), most notably known for his hit, “La Bamba,” died at the age of 17, Buddy Holly was 22 and The Big Bopper was 28. I was amazed how the stars were so successful at such young ages.

Buddy Holly inspired many great artists after the day the music died. Ian Whitcomb, a singer, songwriter, record producer, author and actor once said “Buddy Holly and the Crickets had the most influence on The Beatles.” John Lennon and Paul McCartney stated Holly as a primary influence. Even their band’s name was chosen partly in tribute to Holly’s Crickets.

Holly also bridged American music’s racial divide. When people listened to their music, it was difficult to determine whether they were African American or Caucasian. Although, as Michael Jackson said, “it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white,” and he was right! Everyone loved their music. The Crickets performed for an all-black audience in New York’s Apollo Theater on August 16-22, 1957. Along with, Elvis Presley, Holly made rock ‘n’ roll more popular across all audiences.

 

 

Cover Photo Source: By Paul Hudson via Flickr
Photo Source 1: By Brunswick Records via Wikimedia Commons
Photo Source 2: By Stephen Moorer  (GFDL) via Wikimedia Commons

Nicole Hernandez is the social media manager at SJG. She’s a Chicagoan who graduated from DePaul University with a B.A. in Public Relations & Advertising and minor in Journalism. Nicole is known to her peers as being online all the time –  while on her spare time you can find her taking footage on her phone while she’s rocking out at music festivals. She’s also training to be the new water girl at Chicago Bulls games (in her dreams).