Buddy Holly’s music is still relevant almost sixty years after he passed away in 1959. He didn’t have a big voice like Elvis, Little Richard or some of his peers but he wrote and crafted beautiful melodies for his voice to weave through.
I consider him the beginning of power pop. His Fender playing a clean jangling melody. Songs like Maybe Baby, Peggy Sue, and Words of Love influenced future artists like The Beatles, Hollies, Bob Dylan, and the list is endless. He wrote his own songs and is still influencing artists today with a career that only lasted 18 months.
You can hear Buddy in everyone from Marshall Crenshaw, The Byrds, Tom Petty to Nick Lowe. His songs have been covered by The Beatles (Words of Love), Linda Ronstadt (That’ll Be The Day), and The Rolling Stones (Not Fade Away).
Not only was he a great songwriter but also a great producer and he would have only gotten better. Unlike a lot of his fifties counterparts, I really believe that Buddy Holly would have fit in the music scene post Beatles. I think his best songs were in front of him. Most of his music transcends the fifties and would have fit nicely in the sixties.
His voice was also important. The inflection in his voice was part of his style and the whole package. He could make it rough with Oh Boy or sweet with Everyday. He was never a sex symbol like Elvis… people related to this tall skinny guy with glasses. You didn’t have to look like Elvis or be wild like Jerry Lee Lewis to make it.
Sometimes I forget how big of an influence he left until I start listening to him again and hear the artists that followed him.
John Lennon on Buddy Holly
“Buddy Holly was the first one that we were really aware of in England who could play and sing at the same time – not just strum, but actually play the licks”
Paul McCartney on Buddy Holly
“I still like Buddy’s vocal style. And his writing. One of the main things about The Beatles is that we started out writing our own material. People these days take it for granted that you do, but nobody used to then. John, I started to write because of Buddy Holly. It was like, ‘Wow! He writes and is a musician'”
Bob Dylan on Buddy told to Robert Shelton
“Buddy Holly was a poet” “Way ahead of his time.”
Bob Dylan Accepting a Grammy for Album of the Year for “Time Out Of Mind” in 1998,
“And I just want to say that when I was sixteen or seventeen years old, I went to see Buddy Holly play at Duluth National Guard Armory and I was three feet away from him…and he looked at me. And I just have some sort of feeling that he was — I don’t know how or why — but I know he was with us all the time we were making this record in some kind of way.”