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Subject: December 1, 1957

Randy Steele
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Date Posted: Tue December 01, 2020 23:27:10

Sixty-three years ago tonight, a piece of music history occurred.

Before we get to that, it’s best to explore what was happening in America during the year of 1957. President Eisenhower was inaugurated for his second term. American Bandstand joined the ABC network, and Elvis Presley released not one but TWO movies, “Loving You” and “Jailhouse Rock”. The dusty west Texas town of Lubbock was also bustling. The city population was just under 130,000 people, Lubbock Christian College had just opened, Texas Tech opened the Lubbock coliseum and auditorium on campus, the Red Raider football team had wrapped up a 2-8 season, and cotton was still King. The Spring of ’57 had seen tornadoes move through the South Plains and the Fall of ’57 had provided reports of UFO sightings in and around nearby Levelland, Texas.

There was also a new group of “stars” was beginning to appear above the skies of wide open west Texas. A home-grown rock-n-roll band, The Crickets, had hit the big time. After playing local gigs and opening for national acts, including Elvis, The Crickets debut single, “That’ll Be The Day” (Niki Sullivan, Gary Tollet, and Ramona Tollet on background vocals) had become a smash hit, reaching the top of the music charts and bringing national recognition in the form of Cash Box Magazine naming them “Most Promising Vocal Group of 1957”. Their next single, “Peggy Sue”, was also rocketing up the music charts and being played on jukeboxes everywhere. On December 1st, they would be making their national television debut on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Although rock-n-roll was still new and considered the “devil’s music” in the eyes and ears of many of the older generation, these boys-lead singer Buddy Holly, drummer Jerry Allison, bassist Joe B. Mauldin, and rhythm guitarist Niki Sullivan were anything but rebels. They were good ol’ boys who loved to play music---the music they had written, played, recorded, and produced. Their debut album, “The Chirping Crickets”, was released just days before their appearance television appearance. When it was show time, the boys from Lubbock were ready, and all of them were dressed “to the nines” in black tuxedos and were the personification of well-mannered young men.

The Crickets sang “That’ll Be The Day” and “Peggy Sue” for the audience. They were joined on the Ed Sullivan Show that night by Sam Cooke, who performed “You Send Me” and “For Sentimental Reasons” and Bobby Helms would perform “My Special Angel”. The Colliers All-American Football Team would be introduced on stage too. The Crickets were a hit, again, as the audience loved them. They would make a 2nd Ed Sullivan Show appearance on January 26, 1958.

But 1958 would bring The Crickets (now billed as Buddy Holly and The Crickets) both hits and heartaches. They would follow the Sullivan Show appearances with other television appearances, and tour stops that would include Hawaii, Australia and England. The popularity would soar across the world. The summer of ’58 would see Jerry Allison marry Peggy Sue Gerron and Buddy Holly would become husband to Maria Elena Holly.

A fall tour would ensue but the pressures of fame began to creep in and by the end of October, things had reached a breaking point. The winds of change had blown in and changed the directions they wanted to take their lives and careers. After an appearance on American Bandstand on October 28, 1958, Buddy Holly and The Crickets said goodbye to one another and went their separate ways. Little did they know, the changes were permanent.

The Crickets became a new band, adding friend and guitarist Sonny Curtis and singer Earl Sinks to their lineup and began recording together in the Norman Petty Studios in November. Buddy Holly, with the help of old friend Tommy Allsup, created a new band—with Carl Bunch on the drums, Tommy Allsup on guitar, and a Lubbock disc-jockey named Waylon Jennings on bass and they joined the 1959 Winter Dance Party, a January-February tour through the frozen Midwestern United States. It was a tour from hell.

Unfortunately, the 1959 Winter Dance Party Tour would come to an early and tragic end for Buddy Holly and fellow performers Ritchie Valens and J. P. “Big Bopper” Richardson. On February 3, 1959, after a February 2nd performance at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, Buddy Holly charted a plane to the next venue. Immediately after the show at the Surf, the three performers were driven to the Mason City, Iowa Airport, where they boarded a Beechcraft Bonanza airplane piloted by Roger Peterson and headed for Fargo, North Dakota. They never made it.

Approximately eight minutes after takeoff, the plane crashed into a snowy Iowa cornfield and there were no survivors. Nearly twenty years later, a movie would be made based loosely on the life and career of Buddy Holly. It was filled with inaccurate portrayals and storylines. After attending the premier, longtime Holly friend and Crickets member Sonny Curtis penned a song called “The Real Buddy Holly Story”. In the song, Sonny Curtis reminded the world that “you know the levy ain’t dry, and the music didn’t die, ‘cause Buddy Holly LIVES every time we play rock-n-roll.”

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Subject Author Date
Re: December 1, 1957TonyWed December 02, 2020 05:38:54
Re: December 1, 1957LarryThu December 17, 2020 11:55:37

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