Today (September 7th) marks what would have been Buddy Holly’s 80th birthday. Holly, who would die tragically on February 3rd, 1959, at the age of 22 in plane crash with Ritchie Valens and J.P. “Big Bopper” Richardson, was arguably rock n’ roll’s first singer-songwriter. Holly’s death while on tour with the 1959 Winter Dance Party remains one of music’s greatest losses.
Holly’s hit singles and album tracks, both with and without his backing band the Crickets, such as “That’ll Be The Day,” “Peggy Sue,” “Rave On,” “Maybe Baby,” “Oh Boy!,” “Think It Over,” “Well . . . Alright,” “Rave On,” “Everyday,” “True Love Ways,” “Heart Beat,” and “It Doesn’t Mater Anymore,” inspired a generation of acts including Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, the Searchers, the Who, the Hollies, who named themselves in tribute to him, and most importantly, the Beatles.
Mick Jagger explained Buddy Holly’s influence on all the future British Invasion rockers: “Every English person you talk to, from my generation, at least, will tell you that Buddy Holly was — he was a big influence as a songwriter. And he wrote all these songs in a very short period of time, and they’re all very simple. And he was very big in England, I think he toured only once; I saw him on stage. But he was a very big influence.”
Released in 2011 in celebration of his 75th birthday are two star-studded Buddy Holly tribute albums: The MPL-endorsed Rave On: Buddy Holly and the Peter Asher-produced set, Listen To Me: Buddy Holly. The two albums feature such heavyweights as McCartney, Ringo Starr, Brian Wilson, Stevie Nicks, Jeff Lynne, Graham Nash, Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, Nick Lowe, and Lou Reed paying homage to Buddy.