Buddy Holly

Buddy Holly’s short recording career only lasted three years, but he produced some of the most enduring hits of the rock ‘n’ roll era.  More than 40 years after his death hits like That’ll Be The Day and Peggy Sue are still played and the musical, The Buddy Holly Story, played to full theatres in the UK.

Buddy Holly was born in 1936 in Texas and was keen on blues and country music.  He played guitar with several local country bands and in 1956 a local promoter manged to get him a contract with Decca Records.  But Buddy was not born to be a country star.  Blue Days, Black Nights was released in the US on 45″ and 78″ in April 1956 and was not a success.   There is a UK version on the Brunswick label, which was released in July.  If you own copies of the US versions, the 45″  is worth around £400, while the 78″  would fetch around £100.  UK copies would fetch around £800 and £200 respectively.

That’ll Be The Day was initially rejected, but hastily re-recorded in February 1957 and became an instant classic.  The Band was re-named The Crickets  and the single went out on Brunswick records.  An attemtp was made to lauch Buddy Holly as a solo act, but his first single, Words of Love flopped in the US, because it was beaten to the punch by a cover version and it was never released in the UK.  This single is very rare and US copies would be worth around £250.

The next release, Peggy Sue, made the top ten on both sides of the Atlantic and for the next 12 months Buddy Holly was a huge success, solo as well as with the Crickets.  During 1958 they toured constantly and their two albums, The Chirping Crickets and Buddy Holly are worth around £80, if they are in mint condition. 

By the autumn of 1958 things were not going well.  His solo single Early in the Morning struggled to make the top 20, while Heartbeat, now a classic, barely scraped into the charts.  Buddy Holly split from the Crickets and producer Norman Petty, in order to concentrate more on pop music.  He formed a new band and in early 1959 embarked on the Winter Dance Tour Party of the Midwest.

On 3 February 1959 Buddy Holly, together with Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper, chartered a plane to take them to their next gig in Mason City, Iowa.  The plane crashed shortly after take-off, killing all on board.  Buddy Holly died at the age of 22.  His final single, It Doesn’t Matter Anymore, topped the UK charts two months after his tragic death.  Buddy Holly’s record company were quick to capitalize on his posthumous fame.  A stream of previously unreleased recordings kept him in the charts until the mid 1960s.

Because Buddy Holly died so young there is little personal memorabilia.  He was famous for his thick-rimmed glasses and several pairs have turned up at auctions over the years.  One pair was snapped up by the Hard Rock Cafe for $45,000 in 1990.  The glasses Buddy was wearing when he died were sold for $80,000 at auction and were acquired by the Buddy Holly Exhibition in his hometown.

Given Buddy Holly’s iconic status and the enduring appeal of songs like Rave On, Everyday and Raining in my Heart, collectors will remain interested in him and you can expect Buddy Holly values to rise.

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