The following was compiled by Bill Griggs of Lubbock, Texas
REAL NAME: Charles Hardin Holley, named after his grandfathers. The family name is correctly spelled "Holley". When Buddy received his first recording contract from Decca Records in 1956, they inadvertently spelled his last name as "Holly". He kept it that way for the rest of his career.
FAMILY: Buddy's parents were Lawrence Odell ("L.O.") and Ella Pauline Drake Holley. They had four children, Larry, Travis, Patricia, and Buddy. The family was deeply religious and all joined in on regular family singalongs with the exception of Mr. Holley. Travis has been credited with teaching Buddy his first guitar chords, and Larry once loaned Buddy a thousand dollars so he could buy a new Fender Stratocaster guitar and some stage clothes. (Yes, he did pay his brother back!)
VITAL STATISTICS: He was born on September 7, 1936 at 2:30 p.m. at the Holley home located at 1911 6th Street in Lubbock, Texas. (The house is no longer there.) It was a Monday, was Labor Day, and it was a leap year. During elementary school it was discovered that he needed glasses. Upon examination, his eyesight was determined to be 20/800. He unsuccessfully tried wearing contact lenses and then began wearing glasses, ultimately ending up with the very thick horn-rimmed frames which has now become his trademark. After having his teeth capped, he possessed a very captivating yet disarming smile which, at least in some photos, made him appear more like a concert pianist than a rock 'n' roll performer. As an adult, Buddy had dark brown hair, stood a half-inch shy of six feet and weighed about 145 pounds although this varied.
PERSONAL LIKES: In school, Buddy had average grades. he studied leatherworking and blueprint reading and was a member of the Vocational Industrial Club (VIC), as well as being a member of the school choir. His steady girlfriend all through high school was Echo McGuire, however, their paths slowly drifted apart after graduation as Buddy pursued his music career. He was fond of waterskiing, fishing, and played his guitar just about anywhere that people would listen to him. His favorite color was blue. He loved a thick steak, fried okra, pizza, and peanut butter sandwiches. His leatherworking skills were >quite evident from the guitar cover which he handcrafted and >painted for his Gibson acoustic, to the numerous wallets and belts he constructed for others.
OTHER FACTS: Buddy failed his draft physical because of his poor eyesight but he also had a stomach ulcer. His favorite style of dress was tee shirt and jeans although as a professional he was never seen performing on stage without a suit and tie or, in some cases, a tuxedo. Buddy Holly was the mentor of a Lubbock disc jockey named Waylon Jennings and even produced Waylon's very first record and got his career started.
THE CRICKETS: Although Buddy performed before and after with some other musicians, he became most-famous with the Crickets. As many groups from the era had named themselves after insects, they did the same and choose "Crickets" as it was the only insect which made its own "music", by chirping. (They almost named themselves the Beetles!) Buddy was the lead guitarist and vocalist, the others were Niki Sullivan (rhythm guitar), Larry Welborn (bass), and Jerry Allison (drums). Immediately after recording "That'll Be The Day", Larry Welborn left and Joe B. Mauldin became their permanent bass player.
"THAT'LL BE THE DAY": Buddy Holly and Jerry Allison had watched a John Wayne movie titled The Searchers. Each time that Wayne became disgruntled with something someone said, he'd mutter "That'll be the day". That catch phrase became the title of the first hit record by Buddy Holly and his group. The song was recorded on February 25, 1957 at the Clovis, New Mexico recording studio of Norman Petty and by September was one of the top songs in the country.
"PEGGY SUE": Yes, she was an actual person and the song was named after her. Peggy Sue Gerron attended Lubbock High School and was the girlfriend and eventual wife of Jerry Allison, Buddy Holly's drummer. While the song was being recorded, engineer Norman Petty kept running the signal back and forth through his echo chamber, giving the impression that there was more than one drummer on the record.
INNOVATIONS: During his eighteen-month career as an established artist, Buddy and his group were innovative in many respects pertaining to music. He and the Crickets were the first all- white group to perform at New York's famed Apollo Theater. The Crickets were the first self-contained band and what you heard on record is what you heard at live performances (The Beatles molded themselves after the Crickets). He was one of the first rock 'n' rollers to use overdubbing when one-track recording was the rule, and one of the first to use strings on a rock 'n' roll record. Buddy Holly was one of the few to write the majority of his own material and then perform it. He also made it okay to wear glasses while performing.
THE LAST TOUR: Buddy married on August 15, 1958 and was living in New York City at the time he signed to headline the Winter Dance Party tour. He had recently split (amicably) with the Crickets and, for this tour, formed a new band consisting of Tommy Allsup (guitar), Waylon Jennings (bass) and Carl Bunch (drums). Their tour busses kept breaking down and when they arrived in Clear Lake, Iowa to perform at the Surf Ballroom the evening of February 2, 1959, Buddy decided to charter a small plane to take he, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. Richardson (the Big Bopper) to their next stop. The rest is history.