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Buddy Holly


1936

Charles Hardin Holley, a.k.a., Buddy Holly, is born in Lubbock, Texas.

1953

Best friends Buddy (Holly) and Bob (Montgomery) audition for radio station KDAV in Lubbock. The teenage duo is given a half-hour show on Sunday afternoons, during which they perform country and bluegrass standards.

1955

The trio of Buddy Holly, Bob Montgomery and Larry Welborn opens for Bill Haley and the Comets in Lubbock. Holly impresses a Nashville talent scout, leading to his eventual signing with Decca Records.

1955

In the process of moving from their country-music origins toward the rockabilly sound, Buddy Holly’s trio open for Elvis Presley in Lubbock.

1956

Buddy Holly & the Two-Tones (Sonny Curtis and Don Guess) kick off a 14-date country & western tour in Little Rock, Arkansas. They’re bottom-billed on a lineup that includes Hank Thompson, George Jones, Wanda Jackson and Cowboy Copas.

1956

Signed to Decca Records, Buddy Holly heads to Nashville for his first official recording session. Overseen by veteran country producer Owen Bradley, the session yields four tracks, including Holly’s debut single ("Blue Days, Black Nights") and a classic cover ("Midnight Shift").

1957

Buddy Holly records “That’ll Be the Day” at Norman Petty’s studio in Clovis, New Mexico. The single is released on the Brunswick label (a Decca subsidiary) and credited to the Crickets.

1957

“That’ll Be the Day” hits #1. “Peggy Sue” is released hot on its heels, reaching #3. Buddy Holly performs both songs on The Ed Sullivan Show in December.

1958

“Oh Boy!” becomes Buddy Holly’s third Top Ten hit.

1958

Buddy Holly performs at Brooklyn’s Paramount Theater as part of a bill that includes Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers. It is the kickoff date for a two-month tour billed as “Alan Freed’s Big Beat Show.”

1958

Buddy Holly marries Maria Elena Santiago back home in Lubbock.

1958

Another caravan tour, “The Biggest Show of Stars for 1958—The Autumn Edition,” kicks off in Worcester, Massachusetts. Buddy Holly and the Crickets share the bill with Bobby Darin, Dion and the Belmonts, Clyde McPhatter, and the Coasters.

1959

“It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” becomes the last release from Buddy Holly before his death.

1959

The “Winter Dance Party,” an ill-advised tour through the frigid Midwest, is launched at George Devine’s Million Dollar Ballroom in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Buddy Holly, who has parted ways with the Crickets, is the headliner. The other acts are Dion and the Belmonts, Ritchie Valens, the Big Bopper and Frankie Sardo.

1959

After performing at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, Buddy Holly charters a plane to fly him to Fargo, North Dakota. Shortly after takeoff, the plane crashes eight miles northwest of the airfield, killing Holly, Ritchie Valens, J.P. Richardson (a.k.a. The Big Bopper) and pilot Roger Peterson.

1959

“It Doesn’t Matter Anymore,” written by Paul Anka and recorded by Buddy Holly at his last studio session, becomes a posthumous hit.

1969

The Buddy Holly Story, a best-of album that has been in print since 1959, is certified gold (500,000 copies sold).

1976

Lifelong Buddy Holly fan Paul McCartney purchases rights to the entire Holly song catalog.

1976

On what would have been Buddy Holly’s 40th birthday, the singer’s life and music are the subject of a week-long tribute organized by Paul McCartney. “Buddy Holly Week” becomes an annual affair.

1978

The Buddy Holly Story, a popular film biography starring Gary Busey in the title role, is released. Twelve years later, the actor pays a quarter of a million dollars at auction for an acoustic guitar that belonged to Holly.

1979

A commemorative concert is held at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, exactly 20 years after the final show played by Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper. Del Shannon and the Drifters are among the performers.

1986

Buddy Holly is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the first induction dinner, held in New York City. Holly’s widow, Maria Elena, accepts on his behalf.

Buddy Holly