Happy 80th Birthday Buddy Holly!

On this day, September 7, in 1936, one of early Rock n' Roll's most influential musicians was born in Lubbock, Texas - Charles ...

On this day, September 7, in 1936, one of early Rock n' Roll's most influential musicians was born in Lubbock, Texas - Charles Hardin Holley, better known as Buddy Holly.

Holly's influence throughout Rock n' Roll is well documented. As fledgling band mates John Lennon and Paul McCartney watched a Holly TV performance on the BBC's Sunday Night at the London Palladium. Legend has it that John and Paul were so influenced by his style, the Beatles is a rif on Holly's group, The Crickets.

Another musician who credits Holly as a major influence in his career was a 17-year old Minnesotan by the name of Robert Zimmerman. Before he came known as Bob Dylan, Zimmerman saw Holly perform in Duluth, Minn. just two nights before Holly's tragic death in Clear Lake, Iowa. 

Having been born in 1958, I was too young to have ever seen or remembered Holly while he was alive. Although he was influential to many groups, Holly's music was lost in the shuffle of the British Invasion that swept the Rock music world by the mid-60s. 

While I was familiar with Holly's music because of songs like Peggy Sue that still got occasional air time on Detroit's Keener 13, WKNR and Windsor, Ontario's 50,000-watt fame thrower, CKLW, it wasn't until Christmas of 1969 that I began to learn more about the depth of Holly's legacy.

One of my brothers received from one of my other brothers the album by an early so-called supergroup, Blind Faith. The album (we had the American album art, not the original controversial art) of the same name was comprised of Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker, Steve Winwood, and Rich Grech.

Without delving too deep into it, the Blind Faith album was fantastic. After listening to it repeatedly and reading the liner notes, it was only then that I learned one of the songs, "Well All ...Right" was written by Holly.

Thanks to Blind Faith, the band that is, I began my life-long appreciation of the horned-rimmed West Texan musical genius. Interestingly, about two years later Don McLean came out with "American Pie," which many believed to be an ode to Holly.

Holly's music continues to be covered to this day and surfaces in the most unexpected places. In the second to last episode of Mad Men, the series main character Don Draper gives his Cadillac to a young grifter, takes a seat on a bus bench with Holly's "Everyday" playing the background.

Ironically my favorite Holly song is his cover of "Rave On," which was written by Sonny West. Although both versions are great, listening to Holly's version with his distinctive hiccup introduction, "A-weh-uh-heh-uh-ell…" you can't help but wonder if his vocal styling influenced later performers such as Michael Jackson who used the same technique in many of his songs.  

In any case Buddy Holly, here's to you!



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