By Michael Baadke
American musician and songwriter Buddy Holly was born Charles Hardin Holley in Lubbock, Texas, on Sept. 7, 1936, 80 years ago today.
As a youngster Holly played piano; he took up guitar after his parents bought him an instrument at a pawn shop.
Holly formed a country music band after finishing high school, but the group began a shift toward rock ‘n’ roll not long after opening for Elvis Presley early in 1955.
During that time Holly recorded a number of songs and signed a contract with Decca Records. His first single, Blue Days Black Nights, backed with Love Me, was released in April 1956.
With his Decca contract expiring, Holly recorded several songs for producer Norman Petty. To avoid contract violations, the single That’ll be the Day was released with credit to “The Crickets,” which would become the name of Holly’s backup band.
By August 1957 the song was topping the charts, and Holly and his band performed on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, and later that year on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Holly and the Crickets continued recording and touring, with performances in Hawaii, Australia and Great Britain.
With a new backing band, Holly joined the Winter Dance Party tour in January 1959, which also included Dion and the Belmonts, J.P. Richardson (“The Big Bopper”), Ritchie Valens and Frankie Sardo.
On Feb. 3, a small plane carrying only Holly, Richardson and Valens as passengers crashed into an Iowa cornfield shortly after takeoff, killing all three musicians and the pilot.
Holly is one of seven musicians honored on 29¢ stamps in the Rock & Roll Rhythm & Blues set issued June 16, 1993, as part of the American Music commemorative series. Holly is featured on similar stamps in a pane of 35 (Scott 2729) and a booklet of 20 (2736).