The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum

The Stars Pay Tribute to Buddy Holly

Friday, September 9: 1 p.m.
Posted by Shelby Morrison
Musicians and fans celebrate Buddy Holly's 75th birthday

Seventy-four years after Buddy Holly's birth, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee received a Hollywood birthday bash befitting his status as one of the entertainment world's brightest stars. On what would’ve been his 75th birthday, Buddy Holly was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His star is located directly in front of the Capitol Records building on Vine Street, situated next to John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr (Paul McCartney’s star space is reserved but not yet realized). Holly never recorded for Capitol, but he and The Crickets were a direct influence on the Beatles – the literal root and inspiration for their insect namesake and sound – which makes the location poignantly appropriate.

Fellow Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and rock pioneer Phil Everly of the Everly Brothers, Peter Asher of Peter and Gordon and actor Gary Busey, who portrayed Holly in the biographical film, The Buddy Holly Story, paid homage to their friend and inspiration, each giving moving speeches at the unveiling of Holly’s Hollywood star. Just before the star was revealed, Holly’s widow Maria Elena Holly gave a touching speech speaking directly to his fans, sharing how there were no words to express how proud Holly would be that they have kept his music and memory alive. She noted that Buddy was looking down on everyone as the crowd burst into a joyous “Happy Birthday” song – with most of the crowd bespectacled. 

Maria Elena Holly also visited Peer Music Publishing in Los Angeles for a birthday toast. Maria Elena met Holly in the Peer Music offices in New York City while she was “temping” for her aunt Provi, who ran the Latin division of Peer's publishing office. Later that evening, Buddy proposed to Maria Elena while holding a single red rose.

In planning for Holly’s 75th, two tribute albums were recently released with artists covering Holly classics: from Florence and the Machine singing “Not Fade Away” to Jackson Browne’s version of “True Love Ways.” The albums Listen to Me and Rave On Buddy Holly show the range of Holly’s legacy with performances by Patti Smith, Paul McCartney, Kid Rock, Lou Reed, Brian Wilson, Stevie Nicks, Jeff Lynne, Modest Mouse, My Morning Jacket and more.

Following the dedication of Buddy Holly's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Peter Asher and Chris Isaak hosted a star-studded tribute concert at the Music Box in Hollywood. The artists who performed and paid tribute included a mix of Holly’s contemporaries, such as Paul Anka and Phil Everly, along with artists who have been continually inspired by Holly, including Graham Nash, Michelle Branch, Shawn Colvin, Lyle Lovett (with surprise guitar soloist James Burton), Raul Malo, Boz Scaggs, Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy, Cobra Starship and Stevie Nicks.

In an interview Buddy Holly once said: “If anyone asks you what kind of music you play, tell them ‘pop.’ Don’t tell them ‘rock and roll’ or they won’t even let you in the hotel.” Buddy Holly’s music, likeness and spirit helped to create the foundation of rock and roll and now his influence is welcome.

Click here for a photo gallery with highlights from the Buddy Holly tribute concert and Walk of Fame dedication.

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