Among the first wave of rock 'n' rollers and arguably the very greatest, Buddy Holly was also one of the most influential on the successive generation of pop and rock artists. His career was short-lived, cut short by his death in a plane crash in 1959, but during that brief period he laid down some of the basic tenets of popular music in the late 20th century. Presenting an unlikely image of a pop star, with his over sized horn-rimmed glasses and teeth that needed fixing, but he made up for this with a winning vocal style and an innovative songwriting style. Influenced by country music and R&B, Holly started off in bluegrass groups and his initial forays were as a country artist. In the mid-50s, inspired by the rise of Elvis Presley, he began to play rock 'n' roll music with his backing band The Crickets. During a prolific spell in 1957, Holly and the group recorded some of the best-loved songs of the rock 'n' roll era. With overdubbed vocals and innovative musical arrangements, Holly was pushing the boundaries of the form while still writing songs that were sure-fire audience winners. Holly also recorded solo material using a string section, another innovation that made his untimely death all the more cruel. It is one of music's great unanswered questions; what would Buddy Holly have achieved if he had lived beyond 22?
Followers: The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Joe Meek, The Hollies, Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones
Influenced By: Elvis Presley, Bo Diddley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Hank Williams...