Thoughts from County Native and Arlington Public Library Director, Diane Kresh
Fifty years ago today teen pop idol Buddy Holly was killed in a plane crash while on a brutal winter swing through the sub-zero Midwest. J.P “The Big Bopper” Richardson (“Chantilly Lace”) and Ritchie “La Bamba” Valens, who flipped a coin with another would-be passenger to earn a seat aboard the small craft (a Beechcraft Bonanza) perished along with him. The crash ended the brief but prolific chart-topping career of Holly who hiccupped his way through such self-penned pop hits as “Peggy Sue,” “Not Fade Away,” “Words of Love” and “That’ll Be the Day.”
Gangly with black horn-rimmed glasses (eyewear later adopted by Freddie of Freddie and the Dreamers (“I’m Telling you Now”)–see British Invasion, and the other Elvis), Holly’s appeal is wide-ranging. The Beatles (their band name was in homage to Buddy’s Crickets), The Rolling Stones, the Smithereens, Linda Ronstadt (her cover of “That’ll Be the Day” first turned me on to Holly) each was influenced by Holly. And his life-story inspired a better than passable bio-pic starring the terminally creepy Gary Busey in a once-in-a-lifetime Oscar-nominated role.
The geeky guy from Lubbock, Texas would have been 73 this year. Fate was kinder to Buddy Holly than some. He lives on through his music. Period. He never got overweight, checked into Betty Ford, played Vegas, got a mug shot, apologized. We don’t know what his favorite food was or what his politics were. And we don’t care.
Don McLean (“American Pie”) got it wrong. Holly is long gone but his music lives on.