The Buddy Holly connection

Buddy Holly is one of Don McLean’s biggest influences and his untimely death in a plane crash in 1959 is immortalised in ‘American Pie’ as ‘the day the music died’. Though Buddy Holly is a superstar today, his fame had almost vanished by the end of the 1960s. That all changed in 1971 with the release of ‘American Pie’ and it has been said that if it wasn’t for Don McLean then nobody would have heard of Buddy Holly today. In fact not only is Buddy’s music highly popular, but his life story has been made into a successful movie and musical. The inspiration for the movie ‘The Buddy Holly Story’ was John Goldrosen’s definitive biography of Buddy Holly written over a 12 month period in 1971-72. John Goldrosen was one of the first to acknowledge Don McLean’s success in rejuvenating interest in Buddy Holly. In 1975 John wrote to Don and this intriguing document has been made available to us by Don McLean. In it you will see how important ‘American Pie’ was in the Buddy Holly story. As Don says, “this is not patting myself on the back, it’s just how it really was.”


6 thoughts on “The Buddy Holly connection

  1. Excuse me? Buddy Holly was almost forgotten by the end of the ’60s!? The Beatles recorded his “Words of Love”. Ever heard of The Beatles (whose name was inspired by Buddy Holly and The Crickets)?

    Buddy Holly was not forgotten; perhaps — more correctly — later generations hadn’t heard of him. But not having heard of him, they could not have forgot him.

    And certainly those who grew up with The Beatles knew of Buddy Holly — either before then or as result of The Beatles.

    Or have The Beatles also been forgotten?

  2. I read somewhere that Lennon had a dream which said to call his band ‘The Beatles’ spelt with ‘ea’, but I’ve ALSO read that it was inspired by Buddy and The Crickets. :S
    I don’t think that if American Pie hadn’t been released, that people wouldn’t know of Buddy Holly, though Don McLean perhaps helped his stardom by writing a song to do with his and other musicians deaths.

  3. I think it is sad that so many kids have no clue where music we listen to today comes from. If it hadn’t been for those pioneers getting “their” sound out we would have nothing today.

    If it weren’t for Elvis, Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, The Beatles and countless other musicisans then there would be outlet for new artists.

    I grew up with a mother and father that were born in the early 50s. I have been entirely blessed with the fact that we grew up with the music they grew up with, plus our music.

    We have been doubly blessed by musicians. I know msot of the words to all the old songs and can’t imagine not having then in my life. They have shaped who I am and who my brothers are. We are all musicians because we have been touched by the lives (albeit some were way to short) of these men and women who bore their souls so that others could enjoy the product.

    I do not think any musician is forgotten. They may not be known, but never forgotten.

  4. The confusion here is between Buddy’s recognition in Britain and America. Even Lubbock hadn’t recognised its own son until after a hurricane wiped out the middle of the town. As has been written, the Beatles recorded Holly tracks, including “That’ll be the day” before becoming famous, the Stones recorded Holly’s “Not Fade Away”, their first big hit in the USA, and the Hollies name is self-evident. All of this happened in the UK in the Sixties. The saying “a prophet is not recognised in his own country” is certainly true of Buddy Holly. “American Pie” undoubtedly helped in a resurgence of interest in the US in the Seventies. How sad that when Madonna released a version, she never referred to the Holly connection when talking about it (or did I miss something?. Did she even talk about the fact that Don had written it?

  5. I am a musician influenced by Buddy Holly`s music and he was killed five years before I was born. His influence can be heard in everything from the Rolling Stones to the Beatles and on to this day with bands like Weezer. To say that he was or is almost forgotten is just not true.

  6. In March 1957 John Lennon formed a skiffle group called The Quarrymen. Lennon met Paul McCartney on 6 July 1957; Lennon added him to the group a few days later. On 6 February 1958, George Harrison was invited to watch the group. Harrison joined the Quarrymen as lead guitarist after a rehearsal in March 1958. Lennon and McCartney both played rhythm guitar during that period. After original Quarrymen drummer Colin Hanton left the band in 1959, the band had a high turnover of drummers. Lennon’s friend Stuart Sutcliffe joined on bass in January 1960.

    The Quarrymen went through a progression of names, including “Johnny and the Moondogs” and “Long John and The Beatles”. Sutcliffe suggested the name “The Beetles” as a tribute to Buddy Holly and The Crickets. The band then changed their name to just “The Beatles”.

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