Buddy Holly was born as Charles Hardin Holley although his father’s name is listed as “Holly” on the birth certificate.
He was the first rocker to write and arrange his own songs and supervise his studio sessions.
John Lennon and Paul McCartney were inspired to attempt writing their own songs because Holly wrote his.
Holly used some unusual “instruments” on his records: an empty cardboard box and drumsticks (Not Fade Away) and hands slapping jean-clad knees (Everyday).
Buddy married María Elena Santiago on August 15, 1958 – one day before Madonna was born. He had proposed on their first date. María Elena remarried after Holly’s death but since her divorce she has devoted her life to protecting her first husband’s legacy.
His manager, Norman Petty, advised Holly to keep the marriage secret so as not to alienate his female fan base. María Elena was identified as the Crickets’ secretary.
In December 1958, Holly split from Norman Petty but the Crickets retained him as their manager. Petty held on to some money belonging to Holly who was forced to tour with a new band to make ends meet.
On the final tour, the Winter Dance Party which began on January 23, 1959, the band was hit by terrible weather and their tour bus broke down twice. So Holly decided to charter a four-seater plane for $108 to get to the next venue in Moorhead, Minnesota, 400 miles away.
The last song performed by Holly in public was La Bamba, alongside 17-year-old Ritchie Valens (whose hit it was) and J.P. Richardson (The Big Bopper).
As they were getting ready to leave for the airport, Ritchie Valens pestered guitarist Tommy Allsup for his seat on the plane. They tossed a 50¢ coin. Valens called heads and won. “Hey,” he said, “that’s the first thing I’ve ever won,” Bassist Waylon Jennings had already voluntarily given his seat to J.P. Richardson who had the flu.
The last show ended just before 12am on February 3, 1959 and the three passengers for the plane made their way to the Mason City, Iowa airport. It was then Jennings told Holly that he had given up his seat and Holly said: “Well, I hope your old bus freezes up” to which Jennings replied: “Well, I hope your ol’ plane crashes.”
Just after 1am, Holly, Valens, Richardson, and pilot Roger Peterson were killed instantly when their 11-year-old red and white striped Beechcraft Bonanza aeroplane – wing registration N3794N – smashed into a cornfield five miles northwest of the airport shortly after take-off.
The pilot Roger Peterson was an experienced airman but was partially deaf, suffered from vertigo and was deemed “below average” at night flying and often suffered panic attacks in the air.
Holly’s death is the inspiration for Don McLean’s song American Pie – he calls it “the day the music died”.
Clergyman Ben D. Johnson officiated at both Holly’s wedding and his funeral.
British songwriter Geoff Goddard claimed to be in psychic contact with Holly that enabled him to write the No 1 hit Johnny Remember Me.
Elton John had normal eyesight until he was 13 when he began wearing black horn rim glasses in homage to Buddy Holly, and ruined his vision.
In 1986, Buddy Holly was among the first inductees in the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame.
10 musicians who died in an aeroplane crash
2 The Big Bopper
3 Patsy Cline
4 John Denver
5 Buddy Holly
6 Glenn Miller
7 Ricky Nelson
8 Otis Redding
9 Jim Reeves
10 Ritchie Valens