Those readers who do know me know why today is such a special day – and it’s not just because it’s my Birthday either!
Just over 50 years ago I passed my 11+ (the best aid to social mobility ever invented). My parents bought me a Dansette Conquest Auto record player and a copy of the soundtrack of Oklahoma. I spent 6/11d – nearly a month’s pocket money – on Buddy Holly’s Oh Boy. Since then I have collected every Buddy Holly track ever recorded. I have used Oh Boy to get people up dancing at every party I have ever held. Indeed, I hired a Buddy Holly Tribute Band for my 60th Birthday Bash last year. So, got the picture? Holway is Buddy Holly’s #1 fan!
Exactly 50 years ago, on 2nd Feb 1959, Buddy Holly was on one of the package tours so popular in my youth (I saw the Rolling Stones first on a package tour that was headlined by the Everly Brothers!) Together with Dion and the Belmonts, The Big Bopper and Richie Valens, they had played the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. To avoid a long coach drive, three of them hired a small plane to get them to their next stop. In the early hours of 3rd Feb 1959 the plane crashed killing Holly, the Big Bopper and Valens.
Buddy Holly was 22 and had only been a ‘star’ for 18 months but his impact has been incredible. The Beatles, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Paul Simon, Elvis Costello, and many more, name Holly as their greatest influence. Many of the features you take for granted – like using classical music instruments on rock records, over dubbing etc – were pioneered by Holly. He was one of the first singer-songwriters. Indeed, he had written and recorded enough tracks for Coral Records to keep bringing out brand new Holly songs for 10 years after his death! Some of the greatest popular music ever written and recorded – like That’ll be the day, Peggy Sue, Maybe Baby, True Love Ways and tracks made famous by others like Words of Love (Beatles) and Not Fade Away (Rolling Stones)
Then of course there were the mountain of other songs which were about Holly – the most famous being Don McLean’s 1971 American Pie with its “the day the music died” line.
So, when you inevitably hear rather a lot of Buddy Holly on the radio in the next few days, remember what a huge influence he had on all the other music you hear. And give a smile about the image of an 11 year old Richard Holway buying his first record and starting a life time love affair with all things Buddy Holly.