Charles Hardin Holley

Home » History Greatest People » Charles Hardin Holley

Charles Hardin Holley born on September 7, 1936 and died on February 3, 1959, known as Buddy Holly, was an American musician and singer-songwriter, often considered one of the main figures of the rock and roll genre in the mid-1950s.

Born in Lubbock, Texas to a musical family during the Great Depression, Holly learned to play the guitar and sing with his siblings. Influenced by country music and rhythm and blues acts, Holly performed locally with high school friends.

He made his first appearance on local television in 1952, and the following year formed the group “Buddy and Bob” with his friend, Bob Montgomery. By September 1957, as the band toured, “That’ll Be the Day” topped the US “Best Sellers in Stores” chart and the UK Singles Chart.

Its success was followed in October by the release of “Peggy Sue“ that reached number three in “Best Sellers in Stores”, three on the rhythm and blues chart and number six on the UK Singles Chart.

The November release of The “Chirping” Crickets album reached number five on the UK Albums Chart. By January 1958, Holly had twice appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. Following his last performance, he embarked on a tour through Australia, followed by a tour of the United Kingdom in February.

During his short career, Holly wrote, recorded and produced his own material. He is often regarded as the act that set the traditional rock-and-roll two guitars, bass and drums lineup. Holly had a major influence in popular music, including on acts as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton and Elton John among others.

He was inducted with the inaugural class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, and later ranked by Rolling Stone at number thirteen on its “100 Greatest Artists” list.

The Holleys had interest in music, with all the family members except L.O able to play an instrument or sing. The older Holley brothers performed on local talent shows. On an occasion, Buddy joined them on the violin.

Since he could not play it, his brother Larry greased the strings so it would not sound. The brothers won the contest. During the Second World War, Larry and Travis were called to service.

Upon his return, Larry returned with a guitar he had bought from a shipmate while serving on the Pacific. At age eleven, Buddy took piano lessons, but left it after nine months.

He decided to switch to guitar after he saw a classmate playing and singing on the school bus. His parents initially bought him a steel guitar, but he insisted that he wanted a guitar like his brother’s. His parents bought the guitar from a pawn shop, while his brother Travis taught him to play.

In 1996 MCA released Not Fade Away: Remembering Buddy Holly, featuring contributions from Waylon Jennings, Los Lobos, the Band, the Crickets, and others, as well as a “duet” between Holly and namesake the Hollies.

Three years later the Buddy Holly Museum opened in Lubbock. Holly’s music continues be reissued and repackaged. In 2008 Hip-o Select released an exhaustive six-disc, 203-track box set, Not Fade Away: The Complete Studio Recordings and More, earlier versions of which had been much-sought-after by collectors.

The following year Geffen released a pair of more manageable sets the double-disc rarities collection Down the Line and triple-disc Memorial Collection which put Holly’s music in its proper historical context without all the arcana those only fanatics would want.

Following the February 2nd performance at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, the performers and their road crew drew straws to decide who would fly in the airplane, and who would ride in the unheated tour bus.

The winners were Holly, Valens and Richardson. The four-passenger Beechcraft Bonanza took off into a blinding snow storm and crashed into Albert Juhl’s cornfield several miles after takeoff at 1.05am.

The crash killed Holly, Valens, Richardson, and pilot Roger Peterson, leaving Holly’s pregnant bride, Maria Elena Holly, a widow (she would miscarry soon after). Funeral services were held at the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Lubbock, Texas, and Buddy Holly was interred in the City of Lubbock Cemetery.