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Buddy Holly was a singer/songwriter whose records, conveying a sense of the wide-open spaces of West Texas and unstoppable joie de vivre, remain vital today.
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Buddy Holly was a pioneer in the world of rock and roll and had changed the face of music at the time until his tragic death in 1959.
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Due to legal and financial problems resulting from the band's breakup, Holly reluctantly agreed to tour through the Midwest in 1959 with The Winter Dance Party. Tired of enduring broken-down buses in subfreezing conditions, Holly chartered a private plane to take him from a show in Clear Lake, Iowa, to the tour's next stop in Moorhead,
Minnesota. Holly was joined on the doomed flight by fellow performers Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper. The plane crashed within minutes of leaving the ground, killing all aboard. Buddy Holly was just 22 years old. His funeral was held at the Tabernacle Baptist Church back in Lubbock.
Buddy Holly proposed on his first date with Maria Elena Santiago, a receptionist four years his senior, and married her less than two months later in 1958. Maria Elena did not attend Holly's funeral, as she had also just suffered a miscarriage. She still owns the rights to Buddy Holly's name, image, trademarks and other intellectual property.
Holly's death was memorialized in Don McLean's iconic song "American Pie" as "the day the music died." Holly's music never really died, though, despite the singer's tragic and untimely death. Unissued recordings and compilations of Holly's work were released in a steady stream throughout the 1960s. Due to the continued popularity of his music and film adaptations of his life's story, Holly's hiccup and horn-rimmed glasses are easily recognizable today. Though his professional career spanned just two short years, Holly's recorded material has influenced the likes of Elvis Costello and Bob Dylan, who, at age 17, saw Holly perform on his final tour. The Rolling Stones had their first Top 10 single in 1964 with a cover of Holly's "Not Fade Away." The Beatles chose their name as a kind of homage to The Crickets, and Paul McCartney has since purchased Holly's publishing rights.
Buddy Holly's lasting impact on pop music was even larger. The Crickets pioneered the now-standard rock lineup of two guitars, bass, and drums. Holly was also among the first artists to use studio techniques such as double-tracking on his albums. Despite Holly's numerous contributions to rock 'n' roll, a 1957 interview with Canadian disc jockey Red Robinson suggests that the singer questioned the longevity of the genre. When asked whether rock 'n' roll music would still be around after six or seven months, Holly replied, "I rather doubt it."
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