Charles Hardin Holley, better known as Buddy Holly, was an American music artist and songwriter in the 1950s. Holly’s family loved music, and his father encouraged him and his siblings to play an instrument. He learned to play guitar and would often sing along with his siblings. He was a pioneer of the rock ‘n’ roll music genre. His music style was mainly influenced by rhythm & blues, country, and gospel music.
Buddy Holly was born on September 7, 1936, in Lubbock, Texas. He had no interest in furthering his education, so he started his music career right after graduating high school. Growing up, Holly’s parents took him to piano lessons. He lost interest in piano, and his brother Travis taught him to play guitar. Holly joined his elder brothers when they performed at talent shows when he was a young boy.
Holly played music with his friends in high school. Artists like Jimmie Rogers, Bill Monroe, Bob Willis, and Hank Williams influenced their love for music. They often listened to music radio programs like “Louisiana Hayride” on KWKH, “Big D Jamboree,” and “Grand Ole Opry” on WSM. Holly and his friend Bob Montgomery started a singing group dubbed “Buddy and Bob.” The two performed several gigs in Lubbock and on the “Sunday Party” show on a local radio station, KDAV. Holly and his brother Curtis loved music so much that they would sit in the car and wait for music shows that were only available late at night.
After graduating high school in 1955, Buddy Holly officially started his music career. That same year, Holly and Bob were curtain raisers at Elvis Presley’s show in Lubbock. Elvis Presley’s performance inspired him so much that he changed his style from country to western and eventually settled on rock ‘n’ roll. His band grew as two more members joined. The group performed anywhere possible, from grocery stores to school auditoriums and parking lots.
Buddy signed a deal with Decca Records in 1956, who often misspelled his name as “Holly” instead of his original name, “Holley.” “Holly and Bob” recorded two singles with Decca Records, “Blue Days, Black Nights” and “Love Me.” Buddy was aggressive and wouldn’t let any opportunity slide; after his fallout with Decca, he went ahead to pursue record deals elsewhere.
Later, Buddy formed another group, “The Crickets,” in 1956 and recorded the hit single “That’ll Be the Day” in May 1957. In subsequent years, The Crickets released other singles like “Oh, Boy!” that topped the R&B charts. Buddy’s leadership skills held the group together for success. The Crickets did tours in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, New York, and overseas to promote their music.
Sadly, on February 3, 1959, Buddy Holly died alongside his music colleagues Ritchie Valens and Jiles Perry “J.P.” Richardson Jr. (also known as The Big Bopper), including the pilot, in a plane crash. The 22-year-old is survived by his wife, Maria Elena Holly, whom he married just a year before his death. Even after his death, Holly’s music lives on. His record label produced his music for another ten years and released a new “Giant” album in 1969. He was listed in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his massive musical productions in a short time. In his honor, “The Buddy Holly Center,” a performance and visual arts center in Lubbock, Texas, is dedicated to him.