That'll Be the Day (the Music Died): 50 Years Later

Music Features Buddy Holly
Share Tweet Submit Pin

Robyn Hitchcock:
Buddy Holly was the first pop musician that I know of to use multi-track recordings: On "Words Of Love," he is duetting with himself. The Beatles copied it note-for-note on Beatles For Sale. Their early tape of "That'll Be The Day" sounds exactly like Buddy Holly and The Crickets' original version. And check out John Lennon's take on "Peggy Sue" on the Rock 'n' RollHolly covered hits by his contemporaries, black and white: Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Little Richard. He had the broadest dynamic range of them all—playing and writing ballads, R&B, Everlys' style country-pop and rock 'n' roll. You can draw a pretty straight line from him to the Beatles, the Searchers, the Byrds and the jangle-rock that Peter Buck, Johnny Marr and myself all love to play. He did all this by the time he was 22. Who knows what he might have done later? I've always thought that of all the '50s rockers, Buddy Holly would have responded the most to—or guided—the way music went in the '60s. Rave on!

Paul Westerberg:
Seeds were sown in a frozen corn field in Iowa and reaped in Northern England.

Martin Klingman (Gliss):
I know when my dad would play that stuff, my parents would dance, which was always cool. That sound from the late '50s is so dreamy, and it feels safe, and good things can happen. There's a real peaceful vibe around the music. I think that’s what comes to mind for me as soon as I hear any of those songs by Buddy Holly and those guys. It's like you can go back, even though I wasn’t there. There's a golden feeling around that time.

There's hope—a lot of hope—even in [Buddy's and Ritchie's] sad songs, their breakup songs. It's kind of more like, "we can get through this," which is what the Beatles did really well.

There's not a lot of bells and whistles on the recordings. It's always neat to see a song get stripped down and see where it's really at. I think that's the greatest thing about these guys: they just get it down to the basic thing. It's just a great song as it is, and you can sit there and strum it on a guitar or play it on a piano. You can just sing along to it. You don't need a bunch of things to make it happen.

Sune Rose Wagner (The Raveonettes):
I saw The Buddy Holly Story when I was very young, maybe 10 years old, and that definitely had an impact on me. I didn't know who he was at the time, but I really enjoyed the music in the movie. And the story, I thought, was tragic. So that's why I started picking up on his stuff. And obviously, Ritchie Valens was connected with that "The Day the Music Died" thing, so I started listening to his music as well. I found all the music quite appealing.

For Buddy Holly, I think that he helped shape rock 'n' roll music to what it became. I think the Beatles and all these groups really looked up to Buddy Holly as a songwriter, and I think he was a guy who inspired a lot of people to start writing their own music and start composing. The Beatles did some really good Buddy Holly covers, and so I think that they definitely owe a tremendous thing to him. The way that he mixed country-western with rock—it really became rock 'n' roll. It was a beautiful style. It was very simple, but it was very honest.

Just the legacy that Ritchie Valens left behind at the age of 17 is pretty incredible. He had some pretty amazing, timeless songs written already by then. So, it would have been interesting to see what he would've been up to a few years down the line.

Also in Music