ODDS AND ENDS (Bob Dylan) – BOB DYLAN (CBS 1975)
Michael Gray, author of the definitive book on Dylan’s music, “Song And Dance Man”: “Dylan was very proud at having seen Buddy Holly on his last tour, and he’d been in the front row. No musician who had an interest in rock’n’roll could avoid being influenced by Buddy Holly. He was the first person who knew what he was doing – he did the arrangements, he did the writing, he formed a group, he wasn’t just a singer being moulded by a manager and having somebody’s orchestra behind him. He had rather a strange voice and he sounded like nobody else.
Nik Cohn’s book, ‘Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom’ says that Holly was without talent and stood as the typical acne-kid that everybody liked precisely for that reason. It’s also rubbish to say that Bob Dylan can’t sing, but I hear it all the time, but they can’t sing like Picasso can’t paint. They broke rules, they knew what they were doing and they took no notice of anybody else. They were very ambitious and they had absolutely unique sounds. Holly’s first attempts at recording were complete failures and he was sent back to Lubbock, Texas, which is one of the most god-forsaken spots in the universe, but he refused to become the small town hick.
He knew he could make great records and he went back and did it, and there’s an interesting comparison with Dylan there. There are several pieces by Dylan where you can hear a very strong Buddy Holly influence: ‘Maybe Someday’ on ‘Knocked Out Loaded’ is very Hollyish and there is a lovely little song called ‘Odds And Ends’ on ‘The Basement Tapes’.”
MAKIN’ IT BEFORE THEY GOT MARRIED (Keith Sykes) – KEITH SYKES (Backstreet/MCA 1979)
Keith Sykes, a folk/country performer associated with John Prine and Jerry Jeff Walker, cut this blistering piece of rock’n’roll sounding as close to Buddy Holly as he could. The theme would have been too controversial for the 50s but it sounds like Holly in the 70s.
MALAMBA D’AMOUR – ORCHESTRE SUPER MAZEMBE (Virgin 1982)
If Buddy Holly had been born in Africa…
DON’T KNOW A THING (Monte Warden, Mas Palermo, Brad Fordham) – MONTE WARDEN (Watermelon 1993)
The opening cut on the first solo album from the former leader of the Wagoneers, Monte Warden, is a dead ringer for Buddy Holly. The whole of “Monte Warden” could have been written and recorded by Buddy Holly, and “Just To Hear Your Voice” is the perfect follow-up to “True Love Ways”. To quote one title, “It’s Amazing”, but the second album, “Here I Am”, sounds like Bobby Vee.
FOUR LEAF CLOVER – BROTHER PHELPS (Asylum 1993)
Doug and Ricky Lee Phelps of the Kentucky Headhunters parody the Crickets on this song, complete with Buddy Holly hiccups. The title track of the album, “Let Go”, also recalls Buddy Holly.
GONE (THAT’LL BE ME) (Dwight Yoakam) – DWIGHT YOAKAM (Reprise 1995)
Dwight is too stone country to copy Buddy exactly, but the song and performance has Holly written through it, right down to Jim Christie’s “Peggy Sue”-slanted drumming.
What if the pilot had said, “I’m sorry, guys, the weather’s too bad and I’m not qualified to fly in these conditions.”
(1) Buddy makes an album with Ray Charles. Buddy loved “What’d I Say” but, according to his autobiography, Ray isn’t impressed by rock’n’roll. The album is on Charles’ terms and has a bluesy feel. It is a rare recording collaboration between a black and a white artist. Holly’s career is nearly destroyed through mass burnings of his records in the South. The Klan tell him, “This year the record, next year you.”
(2) Buddy gives up touring after his friend Eddie Cochran is killed while touring in England. He records a song about it, “The Day The Music Died”- “April showers make me shiver, And as I stare into the river, I can’t remember if I cried, The day the music died.”
(3) Bob Dylan befriends Buddy, who helps him on his first album when they duet “Pretty Peggy-O”, the third song in the “Peggy Sue” trilogy. Buddy becomes immersed in the folk music played in coffee-houses in Greenwich Village and later they record an album of oldies, “Self Portraits”. Dylan’s “Lubbock Skyline” is recorded at Buddy’s home studio and includes a duet of “Midnight Shift”.
(4) Buddy’s career gets a welcome boost with the advent of the Beatles. John Lennon says, “Everyone forgets the white guys who created rock’n’roll.”
(5) His rock’n’roll days over, Buddy follows Conway Twitty and Rick Nelson into country music. He decides to grow long hair and wear a bandana but Willie Nelson beats him to it. Eventually, his country music friends play tribute with an album, “notfadeaway”.
(6) Fans start a “Buddy Holly Is Dead” campaign and claim that he died in a plane crash on 3rd February 1959. Among the clues: his biggest single was “That’ll Be The Day When I Die”, he recorded “Not Fade Away”, and the single before his “death” was “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore”. A splinter group says that Buddy Holly was so disfigured by the crash that a wannabe has taken his place, is singing his songs and has fallen in love with his wife: Andrew Lloyd Webber gets an idea for a musical.
(7) Buddy Holly sues Norman Petty for songwriting royalties. He becomes interested in music publishing. Years later, a wealthy man, he buys Paul McCartney’s catalogue. Every September, he holds a Paul McCartney week in Lubbock.
(8) Holly forms a new company, Tex-Specs, which favours spectacles over the new contact lenses. Hank Marvin, John Lennon, Elvis Costello and Jarvis Cocker are recruited to follow Holly’s example.
(9) Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, the Big Bopper meet for a reunion tour and play the Surf Ballroom again. The weather’s bad and they decide to take a plane to the next gig.
(10) If Buddy Holly had received his due royalties, he would never gone on the Winter Dance Party and hence, he never would have hired that plane. Let’s blame his manager and record producer. Why was Buddy Holly paid in Petty cash?