80 years ago today, Buddy Holly was born into a poor musical family in Lubbock, Texas. In just 18 months, from his first #1 hit song, “That’ll Be The Day,” to when he died in a tragic plane crash at age 22, the prolific singer-songwriter topped the charts with more than a dozen Top 40 hits worldwide. Unlike his hero, Elvis Presley, Holly was an innovator for writing his own material and experimenting with double tracking and orchestration. He also pioneered and popularized the now-standard use of two guitars, bass, and drums by rock bands. His influence was felt in Britain where he became the major musical influence for The Beatles and Stones. WATCH his appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show and learn more about his death… (1936)
Before there was a British Invasion led by the Beatles in America in 1964, there was an American Invasion led by Buddy Holly in England. Teenagers John Lennon and Paul McCartney saw Holly for the first time when he appeared on English television in 1958. Having recently begun their musical association, they studied Holly’s records–like Peggy Sue, Everyday, and Not Fade Away– and learned his performance style and lyricism, even took their insect-inspired band name from Holly’s band, The Crickets. McCartney owns the publishing rights to Holly’s song catalogue.
Don McLean’s popular 1971 ballad “American Pie” and its lyric, “The Day the Music Died,” was inspired by Holly’s death and the day of the plane crash. Holly chartered a four-seat Beechcraft airplane in Mason City, Iowa, for himself and his band, which included Waylon Jennings, because their tour bus had no heat and kept breaking down in the frigid Midwest winter. The pilot took off in inclement weather, although he was not certified to fly by instruments-only, and Holly was killed when the plane crashed in a cornfield outside Mason City, Iowa on February 3, 1959. (This sculpture marks the spot–photo by Dsapery, CC )
After he was befriended by The Everly Brothers, Don Everly advised Holly to replace his old-fashioned glasses with trending horn-rimmed glasses. When the plane crashed, the wreckage was strewn across the snow-covered ground and while his other belongings were recovered immediately, there was no record of his signature glasses being found. They were presumed lost until, in March 1980, they were discovered misplaced in a county courthouse storage area. They had been found after the snow had melted the following spring, and were returned to Holly’s widow a year later. They are now on display at the Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock, Texas, which is marking his 80th birthday with a week of festivities.
MORE Good News on this Date:
- Brazil gained its independence from Portugal and celebrates on this day (1822)
- TV pioneer Philo T. Farnsworth succeeded in transmitting an image electronically with his image dissector, and called it television (1927)
- The first episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus was recorded, the wildly popular BBC cult comedy series that ran for 5 years and is famous for sketches like, Dead Parrot, The Spanish Inquisition, Ministry of Silly Walks, and The Lumberjack Song (1969)
- Desmond Tutu became first black leader of South Africa Anglican Church (1986)
- Abdul Ahad Mohmand, the first Afghan in space, returned aboard a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft after 9 days on the Mir space station (1988)
And, on this day in 1915, Illinois cartoonist and illustrator Johnny Gruelle patented his Raggedy Ann doll. He had originally drawn a face for his daughter on a dusty, faceless rag doll she found in the attic. He named the doll Raggedy Ann, and Marcella played with her so much, that he figured other children would like one too. Three years later he published Raggedy Ann Stories and later created a series of popular books and dolls, adding Raggedy Andy as a playmate.