Buddy Holly – That’ll Be The Day

I first heard this song by the Linda Ronstadt version. She did a great job and this was one of the first songs the Beatles covered.

The movie “The Searchers” starring John Wayne inspired this song. This song peaked at #1 in the US Hot 100, #2 in the US R&B, and #1 the UK in 1957.

Holly and bandmate Allison wrote the song. Norman Petty took a writing credit on this because he produced it. This meant Holly and Allison had to share royalties with him.

Buddy Holly and his band The Three Tunes recorded this in Nashville in 1956, but Decca records didn’t like the result and refused to release it. A year later, Holly re-recorded it with The Crickets in a studio in Clovis, New Mexico owned by his new producer, Norman Petty.

Backup vocalists were brought in and the key was lowered to fit Holly’s voice a little better. This version became a huge hit and made Holly a star that summer in 1957.

From Songfacts

Holly had been kicking around his home town in Lubbock, Texas trying to write a hit song for his small rockabilly band since he had attended an Elvis Presley gig at his High School some time in 1955. His band in those days consisted of him on lead vocals and guitar, Jerry Allison on the drums and Joe B. Maudlin on upright bass. He and Jerry decided to get together and go see The Searchers, a Western movie staring John Wayne. In the movie, Wayne keeps replying, “That’ll be the day,” every time another character in the film predicts or proclaims something will happen when he felt it was not likely to happen. The phrase stuck in Jerry’s mind, and when they were hanging out at Jerry’s house one night, Buddy looked at Jerry and said that it sure would be nice if they could record a hit song. Jerry replied with, “That’ll be the day,” imitating John Wayne in the film. 

This was Holly’s first hit, but it was credited to The Crickets, Holly’s band. They worked with two record labels, with one releasing Holly’s songs as The Crickets and the other as Buddy Holly. Both labels were subsidiaries of Decca Records.

This inspired the British 1973 movie of the same name, about a young man with dreams of becoming a rock star.

This was the first song John Lennon learned to play on guitar. American rock stars like Holly and Little Richard were a big influence on The Beatles.

The movie that inspired Holly and Allison to write this also provided the name for the British group The Searchers in 1964.

When this became a hit, Decca records released Holly’s earlier version as well.

“That’ll Be The Day” was the first song John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison recorded together. In 1958, when they were still known as the Quarrymen, they pooled their money, recorded the song at a local studio, and pressed one copy on a 78rpm disc, which they shared. The disc ended up in the possession of Duff Lowe, the piano player in group. In the early ’80s, he sold it to McCartney; it was first heard in a 1985 documentary on Buddy Holly, and was released in 1995 on the Anthology 1 collection.

Linda Ronstadt released her version as the lead single from her 1976 album Hasten Down the Wind. This came at the suggestion of her producer, Peter Asher, who recorded the song completely live, just as Holly’s version was done in the days before multitracking. The song went to #11 in the US and marked a shift for Ronstadt away from country rock.

On this version, listen for the guitar solo – Waddy Wachtel played the first four bars, then Andrew Gold took over for the last four. Wachtel’s performance helped raise his profile in the Los Angeles music scene, where he soon became one of the top session players.

In the US, a version by the Everly Brothers reached #111 in 1965; Pure Prairie League took it to #106 in 1976.

That’ll Be The Day

Well, that’ll be the day, when you say goodbye
Yes, that’ll be the day, when you make me cry
You say you’re gonna leave, you know it’s a lie
‘Cause that’ll be the day when I die

Well, you give me all your loving and your turtle doving
All your hugs and kisses and your money too
Well, you know you love me baby, until you tell me, maybe
That some day, well I’ll be through

Well, that’ll be the day, when you say goodbye
Yes, that’ll be the day, when you make me cry
You say you’re gonna leave, you know it’s a lie
‘Cause that’ll be the day when I die

Well, that’ll be the day, when you say goodbye
Yes, that’ll be the day, when you make me cry
You say you’re gonna leave, you know it’s a lie
‘Cause that’ll be the day when I die

Well, when Cupid shot his dart he shot it at your heart
So if we ever part and I leave you
You sit and hold me and you tell me boldly
That some day, well I’ll be blue

Well, that’ll be the day, when you say goodbye
Yes, that’ll be the day, when you make me cry
You say you’re gonna leave, you know it’s a lie
‘Cause that’ll be the day when I die

Well, that’ll be the day, woo ho
That’ll be the day, woo ho
That’ll be the day, woo ho
That’ll be the day

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

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

20 thoughts on “Buddy Holly – That’ll Be The Day”

    1. Oh it was on the Beatles 1st recording ever..ever…it’s on a crude record made at someone’s house…though they could have done it in Hamburg or the BBC maybe.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Right. For The Beatles it was Buddy Holly, for The Stones it was Chuck Berry. That’s simplifying it, of course. There were many other influences–some overlapping, some not –but these shaped their sound; the intricate and the muscular.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I dig Buddy Holly. It’s quite amazing how many great songs he has written during his short recording period.

    He’s definitely one of the artists where you ask yourself what other great music we would have seen, had his life not been tragically cut short!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know…I would have loved to have seen what he would have done. He was the one 50s artist who I think would have flourished when the Beatles came because his music fit.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I do like her version also…it’s the one I heard first but now I listen to mostly Buddy’s version…I even like the crude version the Beatles did on their first home recording ever.

      Like

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