Seventy-five years ago today, Charles Hardin Holley was born in Lubbock, Tex., to a family that would teach him to play the guitar, four-string banjo, and lap steel guitar.
The boy called “Buddy” also grew up to have a voice, one the U.K. paper the Telegraph wrote that few musicians can ever truly imitate because of the “curious lustre of its tone, its erratic swings from dark to light, from exuberant snarl to tender sigh ... the ‘Holly hiccough’ which could fracture even the word ‘well’ into eight syllables.”
Holly’s voice, his instrumentation, and the tremendous influence he wielded in a just 18-month-long career will always leave fans asking what could have been.
Because in those 18 months, the pop musician put 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, set the template for the required instruments of a standard rock and roll band, and took the genre of rock and roll/rockabilly from Elvis Presley and made it his own.
And then, on Feb. 2, 1959, when Buddy Holly was just 22, he went down in a plane crash along with fellow rock n’ rollers Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper.
Holly’s pregnant wife miscarried soon after, reportedly due to the psychological trauma. Bandmate Waylon Jennings, who had given up his seat on the plane to Holly, was haunted by the crash. In 1971, Don McLean released the folk single “American Pie,” about the day Holly and “the music” died.
Now, in honor of his 75th, Hollywood’s Walk of Fame has finally found Holly a place, and two new all-star tribute albums have tried to interpret Holly classics like “Peggy Sue,” “That’ll be the Day,” and “True Love Ways.”
Listen to Holly’s “Everyday,” a song recorded with his band the Crickets on May 29, 1957:
Watch Holly and the Crickets in an appearance on the Arthur Murray Dance Party on December 29, 1957: