The Story Of Buddy Holly

Buddy Holly Statue i i

A statue in the Buddy Holly Plaza in Lubbock, Tex., honors the singer, who died in a plane crash in 1959 with fellow musicians Richie Valens and The Big Bopper. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Buddy Holly Statue

A statue in the Buddy Holly Plaza in Lubbock, Tex., honors the singer, who died in a plane crash in 1959 with fellow musicians Richie Valens and The Big Bopper.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

In July 1957, Buddy Holly left Texas with only one record climbing the charts. Five months later, sporting capped teeth, a sharp suit, and horn-rimmed glasses, Holly debuted live on The Ed Sullivan Show. Like Elvis Presley only a year before, Holly had made it to prime time TV.

As a child in Lubbock, Tex., Buddy studied the piano. He didn't like it. Holly wanted to play the guitar. His older brother, Travis, agreed to teach him, and according to Bill Griggs of the Buddy Holly Memorial Society, Holly learned a unique way of picking.

"Buddy played the guitar wrong," Grigg says. "Most people play down, up, down, up, when they're stroking the guitar. Buddy played basically downstrokes in a lot of his music. Therefore, he had to play twice as fast, but it also gave him what we call 'rhythm lead.' He kept hitting the bass chord on the guitar first. That's why he had that unique sound that people even today cannot duplicate, because you have to play the guitar wrong to make it right."

By the early '50s, Holly expanded his musical tastes to include blues and rhythm-and-blues and began adapting them into his own emerging musical style: a blend of rockabilly with vocals reminiscent of Hank Williams. "Buddy really liked Hank," Griggs sasy. "If you listen to some of Hank Williams's things, Hank had that kind of a hiccup, the same thing that Buddy is now known for."

Click the "Listen Now" link above to hear more about the life of Buddy Holly.

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