The Buddy Holly Influence

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.”


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

22 thoughts on “The Buddy Holly Influence”

  1. My favorites from the 50’s are Chuck and Buddy- when I read of The Beatles being influenced by Buddy- went to the record store and they had a box set of The Complete Buddy Holly on vinyl- for $25. That seemed like a lot back in the 70’s- but I had the money on me and bought it and became a fan immediately. The thing that always gets me is- he was only 22 when he died- and had already accomplished so much. I know the greats of the 50’s didn’t fare well in future decades but I have to think Buddy had a lot more gas in his songwriting tank. Last fall visited the Buddy Holly Museum in Lubbock- had been in Lubbock 25 years ago and visited the grave, home he grew up in etc. Buddy Holly Lives!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I do think he could have survived in the sixties better than some of his peers did. He may have eventually went country but was a guy that I think would have adapted. His style lent it self to that… I’ve seen pictures of the museum…that had to be fun.
      Money well spent but you are right…that was a lot in the 70s.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I always remember and this was 40 years ago- June 1978- buying new albums by The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan at the same time- and they were 4.99 each. No discount that was the price.. So I guess 25 wasn’t that bad for 6 album Buddy collection but coming up with 25 cut into my grass cutting earnings– but was well worth it. .. You are right Buddy would have survived better than most- and it seems like he didn’t have a lot of the extra baggage some of the others carried with them. Seemed more grounded. Too bad we never got to know.. His widow still lives I believe now 85.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. 4.99…wow.
        That was a box set before the word box set. I bought some of my records early on from Columbia House…It was actually worth it. That’s before I was able to drive. I lived in the country far away from Nashville. I would ask my Mom to take me to a record store when I wanted a Beatles album or something else Columbia House didn’t have…Our small town’s record store didn’t last long.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I remember the small record store in my town that lasted maybe 6 months- let’s just say it was kind of like going to Wallyworld today for your music- high on the popular stuff but low on good stuff. Luckily the National Record Mart at the mall was only 30 minutes away.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Our small town record shop was the same…nothing that wasn’t in the top 40.
        I would have to go to Nashville to Cats or Port O Call records…they were alright.

        In the mid eighties Tower Records came to Nashville…I was so happy. That’s were I bought a couple of import Them albums and they had about everything.

        I miss record shops.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I loved Tower Records- there was one in Columbus 2 hours away and I’d make a trip at least every six weeks to C-Bus. Miss it. Is Ernest Tubb’s record shop still open in Nashville?

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Yes, it’s still open in the same place. I haven’t been there in years.
        Tower Records was like a dream come true…that is when I realized I wasn’t the only person who wanted a rare album by The Troggs or whoever.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. The one in C-Bus also had everything. It was like I went telling myself only spend so much money in there. The demise of the record store and records and even CD’s a sad thing– and the bookstore too- did you guys have a Borders? I loved that place… We had a southern vacation a decade or so ago and spent some time in Nashville- I’d heard about Ernest Tubb’s Record Shop and had to make a stop..

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Yes, we had a Borders…I would hang out for a while in it looking everywhere. We also had a Media Play which had cool books, dvds, and cds… Now I go to the Great Escape…2nd hand record, book and film store.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. C-Bus and PIttsburgh also had a Media Play which was nice… now Barnes and Noble’s remain but the one in Pittsburgh no longer carries music and the ones I have run into that do- have very poor selection…

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Everything is online now which takes some of the fun out of it. That is why we go to yard sales etc…just for the joy of finding something. I would do that in record shops at times…just browse…and book stores.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. Ordering something and having it arrive in the mail–certainly not as thrilling as finding it in a store or yard sale.. I love library book sales.

        Liked by 1 person

      12. I love getting the card with the book…the date stamps from 70s-80s etc…I like that almost as much as the book…Yea I’m strange. I just like holding history.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. My impression is that Buddy’s influence is even more acknowledged among UK artists than US. I’m not sure why that seems, and it could merely be my imagination. Regardless, I love hearing the most iconic artists unabashedly attribute their earliest inspiration back to him. On more recent bands, there’s The Vaccines, who I swear were channeling Buddy in ‘Wetsuit’ and ‘Do You Wanna’, and some of their other songs. I agree that Buddy was only getting started.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Of all the fifties artists I do believe he would have continued to be relevant.
      You are right. America had to get reintroduced to their own blues and soul artists through British admirers like the Stone, Beatles,Animals etc…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I know what you mean. I think he would have succeeded in the sixties unlike some of his peers…
      I could see Buddy continuing pop or maybe going into country.


  3. Buddy Holly is amazing. To me, he’s a lot like David Bowie and Peter Gabriel–he is timeless and always relevant. Maybe Baby, Everyday, True Love Ways, the list and hits go on and on. Wonderful songwriter, singer, guitarist and producer. I grew up 150 miles from Lubbock, Texas. Went to many Buddy Holly Memorial Jams in Buddy Holly Park. Really cool to hear everybody from Joe Ely to Joan Jett to Freddy Fender doing Buddy Holly songs. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for commenting. His influence is incredible because you still hear it today…or they get his influence from the Beatles, Byrds or whoever who was channeling Buddy themselves.
      I think if he would have lived he would have been one of the few 50s acts to thrive in the 60s.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Up until 2 years ago, I really had no idea how much he inspired people in the industry. I can hear him in so many artists. I learned so much about music just by listening to him. His music stands the test of time, too!

    Liked by 1 person

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