Buddy Holly: 75 and Timeless
"He was a great and innovative musician. He was a 'MASTER.' His influence continues..." - John Lennon, 1974
LOS ANGELES, Aug. 30, 2011 /PRNewswire
September 7, 2011, marks the 75th birthday of the great Buddy Holly. In only 18 months, from when Buddy Holly and the Crickets hit the charts with their first release, "That'll Be The Day," to when he died in a tragic plane crash, Holly topped the charts with more than 27 Top 40 hits worldwide, with "That'll Be The Day" going to No. 1. Even after his death, Holly went to No. 1 with "It Doesn't Matter Anymore." From rock to country to R&B, Holly's songs have charted consistently for more than 50 years, proving that his music and his influence continue today. Brian Wilson said it simply: "Buddy Holly is unique... his music matters because it is timeless."
Holly died on February 3, 1959, often referred to as "the day the music died," the event some believe was immortalized in the 1971 song "American Pie" by Don McLean. But even in his short time, Buddy Holly changed the sound and look of rock 'n' roll forever, leaving a permanent standard that continues to influence artists all over the world. As Jackson Browne recently said: "That wasn't the day the music died…it was the day the music became immortal."
Holly was raised on country and bluegrass music and started in a duo known as "Buddy & Bob" until Elvis Presley's fired-up rockabilly sound pointed him in the direction he would create, master and define. The Texas native then blended blues and R&B into his own style, resulting in some of the most innovative music ever recorded.
In an era when most artists performed songs penned by others, Buddy Holly and his band were one of the first four-piece rock 'n' roll band (two guitars, bass and drums) that wrote, arranged, played and recorded their own songs in the studio. Instead of using studio musicians, they put out their music, their way. With this seemingly simple change, Holly created a new blueprint for past, present and future rock 'n' roll bands around the world.
Holly also was one of the first artists to tour with his band as a self-contained unit performing his hits before live audiences and on national television shows around the world. He captivated U.S. audiences with repeat performances on The Ed Sullivan Show, performing his hits "That'll Be The Day" and "Peggy Sue" on their first appearance, and "Oh Boy" on their second.
Before there was a British Invasion led by the Beatles in America in 1964, there was an American Invasion led by Buddy Holly in England. In 1958, Holly toured England for a month playing over 50 performances. He appeared on the two top TV shows, "Sunday Night At the Palladium" and "Live At The BBC." These personal appearances and TV broadcasts were the first exposure of an American rock and roll band to the youth of England. After bleak post-war years, Holly's energy and style triggered a musical revolution in England and seeded the British Invasion that took place six years later in 1964.
The Beatles took their name in tribute to Buddy Holly and the Crickets. When it came down to the business of learning how to work with the mechanics of writing songs, Holly's pure-and-simple three-chord melodies and "words of love" were a major influence and inspiration to John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Notably, five years to the day after Holly was buried, on February 7, 1964, the Beatles landed at JFK Airport in New York City and ushered in the British Invasion that changed popular music forever. Peter (Asher) and Gordon, who were inspired by Holly from the moment they formed their duo, made Holly's "True Love Ways" a worldwide hit a year later. Holly's legacy has been enduring and meteoric ever since.
Had Holly lived, he would have been 75 on September 7th. This notable day serves as the backdrop and the launch of a year-long celebration of his music and his musical legacy. To start this celebration, on the eve of Holly's 75th birthday Verve Forecast and Songmasters release Listen to Me: Buddy Holly on September 6, 2011. Produced by the GRAMMY® Award-winning Peter Asher, a diverse group of leading contemporary artists from three generations recorded their favorite Buddy Holly songs. Asher encouraged these artists to create a modern authentic rendition by adding their own artistic signatures. Rock legends such as Ringo Starr, Brian Wilson, Jeff Lynne, Stevie Nicks and Jackson Browne are joined by contemporary artists The Fray, Zooey Deschanel, Patrick Stump, Cobra Starship, Imelda May, Natalie Merchant, Pat Monahan and Chris Isaak. The one and only Eric Idle, of Monty Python fame, has also contributed a track. Each has created a track that continues the artistic evolution of Holly's music, both true and new.
On September 7 – Buddy's birthday – will be officially declared "Buddy Holly Day in Los Angeles." Holly's much-deserved star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame will be unveiled as a permanent public monument to this iconic artist. The event will be star-studded in many respects, including a rare appearance by Maria Elena Holly (Holly's widow) speaking on his behalf, along with Phil Everly, Peter Asher, Gary Busey and surprise guests that are expected to honor a true legend. Phil and Don Everly (Everly Brothers) were close friends of Holly's and played many shows together. Peter (Asher) and Gordon, who were inspired by Holly from the moment they formed their duo, made Holly's "True Love Ways" a worldwide hit. In 1978, Gary Busey starred as Holly in The Buddy Holly Story and was later nominated for an Academy Award® for his portrayal. The film won the Academy Award® for Best Adaptation Score.
Later that evening, the celebration moves to The Music Box in Hollywood for a special invitation-only concert and birthday party with special guest performances of Holly's music by many artists who have been influenced by and love Holly's music, as well as friends and family members from Holly's life. The concert event will be filmed in HD for a PBS special airing in December 2011. Artists confirmed include: Paul Anka, Michelle Branch, Chris Isaak, Lyle Lovett, Raul Malo, Graham Nash, Stevie Nicks, Boz Scaggs, Patrick Stump and more.
The celebration continues through to the spring of 2012 with many activities meant to remember and extend other key elements of Holly's legacy. Not only an outstanding artist, he was a visionary in the business of music, having created the first label, called Prism, to promote independent recording artists. His widow, Maria Elena Holly, has remarked that Buddy was committed to helping young artists succeed, as he had. To this end, this year-long celebration continues with several programs supporting the development of the next generation of music's greats--both as artists and as entrepreneurs. Three music industry charities - The GRAMMY® Foundation, the Songwriters' Hall of Fame, and Artists House Music -- will benefit from this celebration hosted by Songmasters and its partners.
Holly continues to be an essential component of rock 'n' roll's historical catalog as seen from the continuous sales of his Buddy Holly: Millennium Collection, which is the No. 1 seller of the Holly catalog, and recently released Buddy Holly: ICON. More than fifty-two years later, new fans continue to discover the genius of Holly and his accolades continue to grow. This year, Rolling Stone magazine positioned Buddy Holly as No. 13 on their "100 Greatest Artists of All Time" poll. Today, Holly's classic recorded music catalog is managed by Universal Music Enterprises (UME).
Ringo Starr recently remarked, "In all of rock 'n roll history, he's in the top 10!" Buddy Holly's remarkable legacy is a reflection of the true artistry, vision, heart, and hard work that catapulted him to achieve not only great success, but to also leave an indelible stamp on popular music that thrives to this day.