By: Cindy Annis – February, 2018
Buddy Holly was born on September 7, 1936 in Lubbock Texas. His birth name is Charles Hardin Holley.
When Holley turned 11, he followed in the musical footsteps of his brothers and sister, and took piano lessons. After nine months however, he quit the piano and grew interested in being a guitar player after being impressed by a classmate. His parents got him a guitar, and Travis, his brother taught him to play the instrument.
Buddy became friends with Bob Montgomery when he was attending the Roscoe Wilson Elementary School. When Holley got to high school, he played with Sonny Curtis, and Jerry Allison. By 1952, Holley teamed up with Jack Neal to perform in a talent show on television as Buddy and Jack. In 1953, Jack stopped performing and was replaced by Montgomery. Buddy and Bob as they were called performed on radio station KDAV on Sunday mornings, and performed live in Lubbock.
When Holley graduated high school in 1955, he wanted to make a career out of recording music. He started recording songs on the Decca label, but he didn’t stay with Decca for long. He would have recorded more of his songs on the Decca label, but the record producer wanted a traditional country sound that adults would approve of, but Holley wanted to make rock ‘n’ roll records. On the first single that Holley recorded ‘Blue Day, Blue Night’, Decca records misspelled his last name and from that point on, Buddy Holley was known as Buddy Holly.
After leaving Decca records, Holly went to Clovis New Mexico to meet with producer Norman Petty. There, they re-recorded ‘That’ll Be The Day’ with the rock ‘n’ roll sound that Buddy wanted. The demo tape was sent to Brunswick records in New York. The label quickly released the demo on May 27, 1957 under the group’s name The Crickets due to a five-year argument with Decca that didn’t allow any songs that Holly recorded on Decca to be recorded on another label. Brunswick liked the sound of the group so much that an agreement was made to let Holly use his musical talent on later songs entirely.
Since legal clearance was granted by Decca to let Holly record on other labels, keeping up with what label goes with what song or album became confusing to the fans. If you look at the record labels that Buddy Holly and Buddy Holly and The Crickets were on, you’ll notice that all songs that were credited to the Crickets were released on Brunswick, while songs that were credited to Buddy Holly were released on the Coral label.
In August of 1958, Holly married Maria Elena Santiago. Holly asked to marry her on their first date. To keep his female fans happy, the marriage was kept secret.
Santiago acted as both mother and secretary to the band while they were on tour. She cleaned the laundry and maintained the instruments. As a secretary, Santiago booked the shows and handled the money since Norman Petty wasn’t paying Holly or the other band members. Holly hired lawyer Harold Orenstein to figure out how much money he and the band members were supposed to receive from Petty.
To help get Holly money, a promotor from New York named Manny Greenfield booked concerts for him. Greenfield received 5% of Holly’s earnings. Later, Holly was sued by Greenfield because some of the money he made was out of state. In December of 1958, Holly cut ties with Petty and the Crickets. Since Petty was still holding Holly’s money, Holly had no choice but to go back on the road touring and create a new backup band.
In December of 1958, Holly put together a backup band that would perform with him on the Winter Dance Party tour.
he band members included Waylon Jennings on bass, Tommy Allsup on guitar, and Carl Bunch played drums. On January 23, 1959 the tour started in Milwaukee Wisconsin. On February 2, they made their second stop on the tour playing at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake Iowa. Due to unhealthy conditions, Holly decided to fly to the next tour stop in Moorhead Minnesota. Tragically, Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper died when the airplane crashed a few miles away from the Mason City Iowa airport at 1:00 AM on February 3.
That’s the story of Buddy Holly. Tune in to Cindy’s Vinyl Vault on 980 WCAP Sunday nights at 10, Monday nights at 11, and Wednesday nights at 10. Get your fix of the best music from the 50s, 60s and 70s and even make a request at 978-454-4980. Remember it’s not how old it is, but how great it sounds.