Feb 032009

Among the benefits I find of being a cynic and a wise ass are that I’m extremely comfortable with learning how wrong I can be, and I am really good at heartfelt apologies. In light of comfirmation that The Day the Music Died was a page 66-worthy news item in The New York Times, although I have not reached that point in my cycle of cynicism, I do think it’s important that we reach consensus on the following sincere and positive question:

What is the most enduring aspect of Buddy Holly’s legacy?

  • Is it the jangly guitar chords?
  • Is it his light touch in straddling all the building blocks of rock ‘n roll: blues, country, pop, Tex-Mex, Tin Pan Alley…?
  • Is it his Look? Did any teen musical sensation dare perform in glasses before Holly?
  • Is it the mythology that followed his untimely death?
  • Maybe this is closely related to the above, but is it his role in illustrating the mortality of budding rock-teen culture?
  • Is it something else?

Answers such as, It’s all about the music, mannnnnnn! or All of the above won’t do. We need to determine THE most enduring aspect of the man’s legacy…once and for all.

As you think about this, can you also consider the following question: Would Holly have been able to shuck off the cheesy string arrangements that were already creeping into his records and extend his musical genius into the new decade, or would he have fallen prey to the same factors that stamped an Expiration Date on many of his contemporaries as the times they were-a-changin’? If he had lived and made the transition, he would have been the first of the Mount Rushmore of ’50s rockers to have done this, right?


  55 Responses to “Once and For All: What Is the Most Enduring Aspect of Buddy Holly’s Legacy?”

  1. hrrundivbakshi

    I think Holly’s lasting contribution was the notion that “pretty” and “sensitive” melodies, words and arrangements could live within the rock and roll conceptual framework. Holly was starting to make music that appropriated adult themes and musical components *that was still being marketed at the kidz.* Rock and roll was no longer just about animal beats, wild guitars, flying saucers and the Ubangi stomp — but it didn’t run away from that, either. Really, Buddy Holly was the first prog rocker.

  2. I started enthusiastically nodding along with HVB’s answer… until he unleashed his baffling pay-off. Prog-rock?

    Also, don’t the Everly Brothers deserve some of the credit for bringing pretty melodies into rock?

  3. I think it was the way he took the I-IV-V blues chord progression and made it into the cornerstone of melodic rock and roll.

    Also, am I one of the only people on RTH who likes his latter period NYC sessions (songs like “True Love Ways”)

  4. hrrundivbakshi

    I suppose I should have clarified, but that would have decreased the shock value of my statement. I think one of the unintended consequences of Buddy Holly’s fusion of “adult,” “serious” themes to rock and roll was, ultimately, the scourge of rock and roll taking itself too seriously — best exemplified by prog rock. Buddy’s music is certainly not prog by today’s standards — but you could argue it was pretty progressive rock in 1958.

  5. hrrundivbakshi

    Andyr: we REACH! I totally love that late-period NYC stuff, for sure. No arguments from me there.

  6. pudman13

    How about the formation of what would soon become the traditional 4-piece rock band: rhythm guitar, lead guitar, bass and drums?

  7. pudman13

    By the way, I’ve heard people say that Buddy Holly (or Bobby Fuller, for that matter) would have beat the Beatles to something like SGT. PEPPER if he (they) had lived, and the only evidence I see is that none of the other 50s greats did it. Holly’s musical style was pretty limited. Take a look at just how quickly the Beatles made major strides musically and compare it to anyone who came before. I’m just not buying this argument at all. The closet counter is that nothing the Beach Boys did in their first several years foreshadowed PET SOUNDS, but if you pay careful attention, they had some pretty complicated music even in the earlier days. I see no reason to make a leap from that one example to believing that Buddy Holly would have become the greatest artist of the 60s.

  8. Andy, I’m with you on the latter period stuff. “True Love Ways” is a stone cold classic!


  9. 2000 Man

    Pudman, I think Buddy was the one that wanted to try the strings on his songs, and I don’t think he had any intention of making them be his final destination. He really got a lot out of his songs, and he didn’t have some driving force behind him like Col Tom or Sam Phillips telling him what to do. He was kind of left to follow his own path because he had success pretty much on his own terms. That was pretty rare back then. He was sort of the first Free Agent.

  10. Hank Fan

    The look was big, but I suspect that is biggest “legacy” was his influence on John Lennon and The Beatles. Sure, they were also inspired by Chuck Berry, Elvis, et. al., but they named their group after the Crickets and their early poppy-guitar sound fits more into Buddy Holly’s niche than the other early rockers.

    As for his unlived future, I think Buddy Holly would have returned to his Texas roots and become an “outlaw” country rocker like his Lubbock pal Waylon Jennings (who played with the Crickets). His path from early rocker to country would have been not unlike that of Jerry Lee Lewis and Wanda Jackson, but his natural pop tendencies and prodigious songwriting ability would have propelled him to greater heights in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Remember that Buddy Holly’s biggest influence was probably Hank Williams.

  11. hrrundivbakshi

    Had Buddy Holly lived, he would have become a quasi-easy listening country star and sung duets with people like Barbara Mandrell. Sad but true.

  12. Mod, the graphics on the site just get better and better, props to your web guy.

    Maybe Buddy’s legacy was that he was a “gateway” artist (you know like gateway drug, it leads to harder things..)

    His songs were legit but they were soft and friendly enough for people who might not have listened to Rock and Roll otherwise…

  13. Robyn Hitchcock on Buddy Holly (from Paste magazine):

    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’ Roll album! Holly 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

  14. saturnismine

    the most enduring aspect of buddy holly’s legacy is the notion that rock and roll was predestined to incorporate strings and multitracking and other production values.

    the second most enduring aspect of buddy holly’s legacy is buddy holly’s legacy.

  15. Mr. Moderator

    Townspeople, you’re on fire. Buddy would be proud. I’m following all that you’re saying, and I’m especially intrigued by Hank Fan’s point of view. Keep it coming, and then let’s make sure we reach consensus…once and for all.

  16. alexmagic

    I don’t think it’s his greatest legacy or what I or anybody likes best about him, but I bet you really could make a case that his glasses and the ongoing ramification they had on Look – for both performers and fans – really are Holly’s most enduring legacy.

  17. saturnismine

    i don’t want this to become a discussion of his glasses, but no, alex. his glasses are the most familiar part of his visual aspect. but for a significant part of the decades between his death and the present, fashion has run screaming in the opposite direction from those glasses, and they had no “ramification on look” whatsoever. that’s not a legacy. that’s a fashion choice that’s subject to trends.

    however, it is true that those glasses have become a fashion staple in the past, oh i dunno, decade or so? you know, if you search “buddy holly” on iTunes, the top hit, by far, is the weezer song that mocks / extols buddy’s look.

  18. saturnismine

    i wanna go back to this idea that the idea of buddy holly (his legacy, or that idea that he had such penetrating vision into the future of rock) is the most enduring aspect of his legacy.

    i love his songs. but i like the skepticism i’m hearing in some of the comments. you guys dismissed pudman too readily. but he’s right. if you strip away the arrangments, then his tunes don’t take us to very many interesting places. they’re lovely, but they don’t push songwriting in any directions that presage the future of rock.

    and really, what was so progressive about overdubs and strings at the time? les paul had already pioneered overdubbing WAY past where buddy was at when he died. other songs by other artists had string arrangements.

    it’s wonderful that buddy wanted to take his pre-bubblegum writing style to new places in the studio, but i think the traditional view of him as the one who saw it all coming down the pike is simplistic.

  19. BigSteve

    There’s also the iconic value of the singer/frontman + Stratocaster formula. Didn’t he play a big part in making the Strat popular?

  20. saturnismine

    well, bigsteve, i’ve heard of singer/frontmen with guitars, of course. but are you saying that singer/frontmen with strats form a separate category that buddy pioneered? or are you saying he was a singer / frontman who popularized the strat?

  21. Mr. Moderator

    If we’re deciding between his glasses and his Strat, I’m going with the enduring influence of the glasses. Someone else would have rocked a Strat, no? The glasses were visionary. No joke: they’re beyond a rock thing; they have cultural significance, being directly responsible for John Lennon being comfortable wearing glasses in public and beyond. Lots of parents, I bet, were reassured by the positive influence of Buddy wearing his glasses.

    I can’t go for the legacy of the legacy. Although I think I now have a better idea of what Sat is after, it reeks of one of those “All of the above” answers, no? Or is Sat really saying that the mythology that followed Buddy’s death is his most enduring legacy? If so, perhaps…

    Musically, I think all of us who’ve pointed toward his deft, light touch with the building blocks of rock ‘n roll are onto something. The Everly Brothers have some similar qualities, but they’re always a vocal group at heart. Holly’s music – and the tone he sets with his music – was ahead of its time, whether he was using “complex” chord changes or not. All day long I keep thinking about that song “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore.” In many ways it sounds like a lot of proto-adult contemporary music that was becoming popular, like a Gene Pitney song or something else in the Bacharach vein. Even using the slightly cheesy arrangements that are a part of such music, I think Holly uses them to set an emotional tone, not just fill the state-of-the-art recording spectrum. In this way, perhaps, his arrangements are, in their own way, akin to what Bacharach and David were doing with the likes of their greatest interpreter, Dionne Warwick. Although Warwick is obviously a Vocalist and was marketed as the star of her show, I think the way her voice fit into the arrangements and mood of the song, only leaping out and taking over when necessary, is what made her so special doing those songs. I guess what I’m saying is that Holly knew how to work his vocal presence within and around the songs he wrote. I think this may be what we’re getting at when we consider him more of an “artist,” consciously, than his peers.

  22. saturnismine

    Mod, re. the glasses, you argue you like a historian (said the historian). heaven help you.

    you make a good point, but i keep thinking of the late sixties and the entire 70s, when noone except rth icon elvis costello would be caught dead wearing those glasses. and i think costello wore them precisely *because* noone would be caught dead in them.

    you wrote: “Or is Sat really saying that the mythology that followed Buddy’s death is his most enduring legacy? If so, perhaps…”

    yes. that’s the idea. I think the *idea* that he was so innovative is the first thing you hear about buddy holly. it’s more potent than his innovations themselves. i think the what if’s that followed buddy’s death have become bedrock aspects of rock criticism. his death made us invent a way of talking about rock and roll stars, particularly dead ones, that has become a part of our culture.

  23. saturnismine

    but i wanted to also say that i think your points about his music, especially his vocal approach, are right on the money. as a lover of his songs, your description is making me want to listen to the whole catalog right now!

  24. saturnismine

    but….mod, “it doesn’t matter anymore” was written by paul anka, not buddy.

    and your description of it sounds more like you’re describing the linda ronstadt version. buddy’s version, is twitchy, uncomfortable sounding, as are most of his performances of songs by others. i don’t see it as something we can point to in order to make an argument for him as innovative.

  25. 2000 Man

    I don’t think Buddy would have written Sgt. Pepper, but I think he would have already tried a lot of the effects The Beatles used the studio to get before The Beatles had tried. I think Pudman’s right to essentially say, “Prove it,” but we can’t. To me, Sgt. Pepper is a step forward in production values in rock music, but I’ll never bother to own it because I think the songs mostly suck. I think a lot of the novelty of hearing some of those sounds wouldn’t have existed had Buddy been able to really push his vision of what a studio could be used for.

    BTW, sat – if you strip away the arrangements of Buddy’s songs, aren’t you stripping away the very thing that makes him different? If you take Keith Richards’ guitar away, he’s not much of a singer is he? I’m with ya on the glasses, though.

  26. saturnismine

    2K wrote: sat – if you strip away the arrangements of Buddy’s songs, aren’t you stripping away the very thing that makes him different?

    i write: egg-ZACT-lee. i think it’s important to separate his songwriting from his arranging. his songs are great for their catchiness. his sense of melody and lyrics is unique, and he does a lot with a few chords. it’s remarkable. but it’s not the same thing as his arrangements.

    thanks for your endorsement of my glasses point.

    and as for peppers…it’s interesting that this comes up today. i had coffee with a classical violinist who has been so wrapped up in classical music since her youth that she said, very innocently, “who is neil young?” when he came up. i asked her to tell me what post-beatle pop music she knew. and the only songs she could sing were from sgt. pepper. it has that kind of cache: it “legitimized” rock, right? it made it into “art.” i think buddy holly’s penchant for strings near the end of his career gets retrofitted into the way rock “progressed” into more “artistic” areas. and i think that’s a distortion. as i said a few posts ago, strings were a part of lots of pop song arrangements by buddy’s time. it’s really not as big a deal as “the legacy” makes it out to be.

    maybe i’m biased since i’d prefer to sit around listening to the stooges.

    by the way, does everyone here realize that his entire music career was about 17 months long? and his time in the limelight was even shorter. i’m really beginning to doubt the cultural impact of his frames.

  27. BigSteve

    I just mean that when he made his mark, singers/frontmen did not play electric guitar. At least I can’t think of any other examples. And he could have played any guitar, but he played Strat, and he always played Strat. It’s so much part of his Look that it seems inevitable. And the sound of the Strat is important to his overall sound, and it’s an important contrast to the big hollow-body jazz guitars that were the norm (although now that I think about it Gene Vincent’s guitarist played a Tele, I believe.)

    I’m also dubious about Holly turning into a Brianesque studio genius. That wasn’t a career path that was really available to rockers of his generation. The ones that kept at it and made first-rate music in the 60s (Roy Orbison, Charlie Rich, to a lesser extent Jerry Lee Lewis and the Everlys, excluding Elvis, who is a special case) all did it as singer/songwriter/auteurs. And they all did it by becoming even more like themselves, not becoming something completely new and different.

    How about the idea that Holly was not a tortured genius? He seems like just a nice, ordinary guy from Texas, especially in contrast to all the other artists I’ve mentioned. Or did he just die before we found out about his issues?

  28. saturnismine

    i see what you’re on about now, BigSteve.

    speaking of the concept of buddy as tortured, remember the Gary Busey portrayal of Holly?


  29. hrrundivbakshi

    Sat said:

    if you strip away the arrangments, then his tunes don’t take us to very many interesting places. they’re lovely, but they don’t push songwriting in any directions that presage the future of rock.

    I say:

    Sat, why you gotta be an iconoclast like that? And why you gotta be wrong like that? Why you gotta pick fights with me?

    At the heart of Buddy Holly’s wonderfulness is his innovative use of melody in the rock context. Listen to “Rave On,” for instance. Andyr is right: its cleverness, its goodness and its ahead-of-its-timeness stems from the fact that Holly wraps a choice, sweet, tuneful melody around a dead simple chord pattern — and a dead simple strum pattern, for that matter. *That’s* the thing the Beatles nicked, and the thing upon which they worked their greatest magic: the notion that rock and roll could be “catchy” in the same way a Rodgers and Hammerstein number is — *without sacrificing the jungle beat*. By deconstructing Holly, you misunderstand him. he was a truly innovative, modern, pop music synthesist.

  30. saturnismine

    hvb, i share your love of the tunes.

    and as for buddy’s songs as being all those things you say they means in rock’s *historical trajectory* (said with fanfare), i’m simply saying that their significance is probably overblown.

    i don’t deny the existence of his innovations.

    but it’s pretty simple. the beatles liked buddy holly…alot…and they tried to write like him.

    but they didn’t try to write like him all the time. and it could be argued that the more they sounded like him, the less innovative they were. they innovated when they departed from him and did other things like incorporating ideas from your hero, bob dylan, and bringing in instrumentation from other cultures, like sitars, things that had nothing to do with buddy holly.

    all i’m saying is…buddy was great. i love the guy. but let’s not get carried away.

    i think the myth is overblown.

    and i also think the myth, and how it has become a model for talking about rock, is a much bigger part of rock culture than any of his songs or his methods.

    that’s why i’m arguing that his legacy is the most enduring aspect of his legacy.

  31. 2000 Man

    BigSteve, Richie Valens sang and played guitar, so did Eddie Cochran and Chuck Berry. I’m sure there’s more, but off the top of my head they came to mind. They may have all played the big hollow bodies you were talking about, though. If Buddy was instrumental in pushing the Fender sound, then that’s probably one more thing I can trace back to my tastes in music to Buddy.

    I’m with HVB on this. We’re going to the Malt Shoppe!

  32. saturnismine

    2k, i’m surprised a stones man like you is buying into the hype.

    name me one other band besides the beatles for whom buddy was such a seminal influence.

    then we can talk about him as this visionary innovator who changed the face of rock and roll.

    we can love the tunes while seeing how distorted this myth is. we can even love the myth more after we realize how distorted it is. but we don’t have to believe it.

    i’ll be hanging out with team enlightenment when you all catch up to me.

  33. Sat,

    I think your claim that the Beatles innovations focus around elements like Dylan mimicry and sitars is really not accurate. From the get go, the Beatles at their best sounded entirely different than what had gone before. I think their most apparent vocal influence was the Everly Brothers in the frequent use of interesting two part harmonies, but their early songs, Love Me Do, Please Please Me, She Loves You, just have a brand new sound. That, for me was their greatest innovation. Reread HVB’s post above about what he sees as Holly’s legacy. Is it possible that the early Beatles innovation really traced back to a Holly’s marriage of melodic sophistication on top of a rock and roll foundation. Is his best songwriting really the clearest antecedent to the Beatles early sound? I never really considered this, but some of the discussions have got me leaning that way.

  34. saturnismine

    good stuff geo (and the rest of you).

    i’m being gentle about this because i like buddy holly’s tunes so much.

    when talking about the ways in which the beatles innovated, I should have listed dylan, the sitar, etc. and then wrote “among other things.”

    i think hvb’s description is wonderful.

    and more than this…geo, the songs you list are the ones that are probably closest to the buddy holly sound! i never thought of them as ‘sounding entirely different than what had gone before” but maybe that’s how people heard them. in any event, i don’t think those songs are as brand new sounding as you say. i would give buddy more credit than you for those songs!

    but again, we’re talking about this innovator of *rock writ large* through the filter of one band.
    sure, the stones covered ‘not fade away,’ but how integral was he to their sound? and how many other bands were as intent on sounding like him as the beatles?

    but getting back to the main point, even if i concede, as i’m willing to do, that those early songs you name are buddy influenced, let’s be real: the beatles turned LOTS of different tricks that don’t have much to do with him at all.

    you can argue if you’d like that buddy holly is the root cause, he to whom all beatles innovations can be traced. but i don’t buy it. they listened to too many other things…they allowed too many other ideas into the fabric of their writing.

  35. BigSteve

    This may seem like a distinction without a difference, but Berry, Cochran, and Valens were solo artists. Holly was the frontman in a band, the Crickets. But, yeah I think Valens played a Strat too.

    Maybe we’re looking for Holly’s influence too early, in the mid 60s. It seems like his influence took a long time to be felt. In the 70s reissues and compilations made music like his available outside of oldies radio, and the kind of jangle pop he originated started to filter though to certain kinds of post-new wave artists, Marshall Crenshaw being just the obvious example.

  36. dbuskirk

    Of course Buddy’s most enduring legacy is inter-racial marriage, the launching of the Gary Busey’s star and the importance of orthodontics.

    Even if Buddy didn’t stay in the vanguard of modern pop I’m sure he would have made more music I’d have really loved. I’m a big fan of the Everly’s 60’s stuff, “Lord of the Manor” is probably my favorite records of theirs. Even if Buddy veered into some Bobby Darin-styled squareness I’m sure there’d be plety to dig. Yhat “what if…” does play some part in his appeal.

    Love that live Ed Sullivan clip, you really realize how eccentric his whole vision is, with that hiccuping vocal and raw guitar sound. It almost sounds like the Violent Femmes walked onto Ed set in 1958, making some unfathomable racket.

    I have both the MCA box and that 5-Disc “What You’ve Been Missing” bootleg box (the fruit of a major pre-internet search) so I’m pretty heavily pro-Buddy (I even have the glasses). One of my favorite recordings is that undubbed tape of him monkeying around with the old Coral tape machine he hauled back to his Greenwich Village apartment. Just him, goofing around on his Strat while Maria is heard doing the dishes in the background. It has a priceless intimacy.

    The booklet in that bootleg has an interview with his barber, who said he was kind of rude.

  37. dbuskirk

    Anybody else follow their Holly worship on to Bobby Fuller? Those box sets that came out in the ’90’s are packed with Holly-esque production and guitar, Fuller was obviously one of the first retro fan-geeks. Fuller’s rhythm style pre-figures Sterling Morrison at times.

  38. sammymaudlin

    I hate to bring this up again…but…the glasses…are…ummmm…BO DIDDLEY’s!

  39. dbuskirk

    …or are they Dave Brubeck’s?

  40. 2000 Man

    Weren’t they the only glasses you could get back then? Unless you were a girl. Then you got those funny cat eye things.

  41. Sat,

    the interesting thing is that I didn’t specifically pick songs that sounded to me like Buddy Holly; I picked songs that made the initial Beatle splash that set the world on fire. I also meant to include I Wanna Hold Your Hand. Now I wasn’t saying that they sounded so much like Holly, more that HVB’s description of the nature of Holly’s innovation made me think of this sound too. I do think that the sound of the early Beatles, that being the self composed stuff sprinkled in amongst the Motown and Berry covers of the earliest records, was really new. I was 8 or 9 when the Beatles hit, and a squirrely little radio listener, going to bed with one of those little transistor radios, and I remember the impact of those hits. If you could hear them fresh at that time, they didn’t sound like what had come before. I think it’s hard to see that from this side of the Beatles explosion. And yes, they sustained the explosion of originality with their Rock Superpowers, but I believe the sound of their earliest singles was the root of the most organic thread of their originality right up through the end.

  42. Buddy Holly’s lasting contribution(s)?

    The Everly Brothers
    The Beach Boys
    The Beatles
    Jimi Hendrix
    Paul Simon
    Elvis Costello
    Bruce Springsteen

    any artist that does not try to look and sound like a matinee idol, writes and sings their own material, plays electric guitar, uses their real band on their records, is proud of their regional roots.

    I always thought that Buddy was on the verge of discovering the sound of (and beating to the punch) the Beatles and Hendrix

  43. saturnismine

    this ^^^ is the kind of buddy-as-root-cause myth drivel i’m talking about.

    why don’t we just name *any* band, and give, oh idunno, del shannon all the credit? he matches the same description you give after your list.

    buddy uber alles.

  44. saturnismine

    didnt’ johnny cash use a “real band” and write his own tunes, too?


  45. hrrundivbakshi

    Yeah — I’m a bit unclear on how Buddy Holly could’ve “discovered the sound” of Jimi Hendrix.

  46. I’m on board with those who say Buddy’s most enduring legacy is his innovations but would frame it a bit differently.

    For me Buddy’s legacy is that he was the first real DYI guy. He didn’t have a svengali-like Colonel guiding his career; he wasn’t just a guy with a great voice who rushed into the studio to sing songs that were written, arranged, and produced by an assembly line. Lest the Mod accuse me of trying to sneak in an all-of-the-above answer, I’m not talking about his specific achievements individually or collectively, but rather his will to control all of the artistic aspects of his career.

    (Full Disclosure: My theory is largely based on the Buddy Holly Story, where each of Buddy’s innovations is emphasized by Mork’s father in law practically looking at the camera and saying, “But Buddy, you can’t do that! No one has ever [produced their own record/Overdubbed/added strings to a rock song].”)

  47. dbuskirk

    I’ll agree with Sat that his influence is at times overstated but I’d argue that of all the first round Rock Hall of Famers Buddy was the one who had the most exploratory impulse and most fully conceived himself as an “artist”. The way his hits were both stripped way down to the minimal (“Peggy Sue” and “Everyday” in particular) to large string orchestras, moving not just to NYC, but to Greenwich Village in the 50’s, developing an eccentric but flexible vocal style, his guitar playing and his writing, which at it’s best is built on odd rhythmic tricks and ideas. And on top of it all, those records capture spirited performances that are half the excitement.

    I love Elvis, Fats, The Everlys, Bo Diddley and all but in some way the seemed to be creating showcases for their over-sized personalities where Holly seemed to be testing the potential of the form. I think that set an example for other artists whose influence went beyond merely musical.

    And he did all this in two and a half years! I it was yesterday that he died, the career would have started only in 2006!

    The Velvet’s “What Goes On” seems Holly influenced to me, along with a lot of Yo La Tengo’s shtick.

  48. saturnismine

    cdm writes: “(Full Disclosure: My theory is largely based on the Buddy Holly Story, where each of Buddy’s innovations is emphasized by Mork’s father in law practically looking at the camera and saying, “But Buddy, you can’t do that! No one has ever [produced their own record/Overdubbed/added strings to a rock song].”)”

    I write: mmm hmmm…the more you buddy-as-innovator guys keep talking, the more confident I am that buddy’s most enduring legacy is really his legacy. at the *very least*, it’s one of rock’s greatest perpetual exports to the present and future of rock discourse.

    i’ll say it one more time…overdubbing techniques and the use of on popular songs were not new ideas by buddy’s time. he invented neither.

    but dbus, you argue most even handedly…the way i might if everyone on here was posting that he’s not at all important. but i’m not sure i ever heard a buddy thing happening in “what goes on.” “sunday morning?” sure.

  49. dbuskirk

    Little Richard tells a couple memorable Buddy stories in his biography. One about Buddy banging Richard’s stripper girlfriend while Richard was on stage (climbing off just in time to hit stage himself) and another one of Buddy facing down his parents when they didn’t want to let Richard in the house. “I bet they washed those dinner plates a hundred times after I left!” he squealed (as I roughly paraphrase from memory…).

    I remember the picture of Little Richard’s gilfriend made her look like the foxiest lady ever.

    If you’re talking about Hendrix influences, it’s Little Richard. I’m sure touring with Richard must have expanded Jimi’s conception of acceptable outrageousness.

  50. BigSteve

    Buddy Holly invented the key of G. And if he’d lived he would have discovered the other keys before anyone else did.

  51. Two wearings of the pince nez:

    1. Waylon Jennings was in Buddy’s backing band on the 1959 tour, but that band wasn’t the Crickets, who had already split before then.

    2. Even in 1958, Buddy marrying a Latina would not have been considered “interracial” in Lubbock.

  52. Mr. Moderator

    I just added a YouTube clip from Bob Dylan that should be considered.

  53. Since Dylan actually got to see Buddy live, maybe we can get his input on this thread. I assume Bruce Springsteen has hipped him to RTH.

  54. Hank Fan

    If you want to be technical, Waylon did play with The Crickets in 1974.

    On another subject, I think the reason why Holly’s influence is not felt much beyond The Beatles is the fact that it was included within and eclipsed by The Beatles influence on everything else. That’s why I say his influence on The Beatles was his biggest legacy.

    Anybody who has been inspired by The Beatles has also been inspired, indirectly, by Buddy.

  55. alexmagic

    I always thought that Buddy was on the verge of discovering the sound of (and beating to the punch) the Beatles and Hendrix

    This is why he had to be stopped. Buddy couldn’t be reasoned with and wouldn’t play ball when they told him that he had no idea what he was about to unleash. They warned Buddy that he was experimenting in areas for which the world was not yet ready, but Buddy wouldn’t hear it, and so something had to be done. Valens and the Bopper were regrettable casualties, but it had to happen then because they were at the mercy of the only man who would agree to solve the Buddy Holly problem. And that man was…Bo Diddley. I can only say this now that Bo is no longer able to silence those in the know, but I’ve already said too much.

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