This year is the 50th anniversary of the much-too-early death of Buddy Holly (at the tender age of 22), and I’m having a mini-obsession. Being from Iowa, I grew up knowing that the plane carrying Buddy, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper (J. P. Richardson) crashed in a cornfield near Clear Lake. I’ve always felt bad about that—that the crash took place in my home state. And as a person who swears by the safety of small planes, it’s disturbing that such a crash took place at all. I grew up hearing bits of stories—myths, I believe I would call them—about an alleged gunshot having been fired in the airplane, and I’m glad some of the books about Buddy Holly address that question. (And, I believe, debunk it.) With so much of the talk focused on his death, I was eager to learn more about his life and his music.
The thing that happened when I began reading the first Buddy Holly book is that I found that I needed to check out a CD of his music to hear the songs I didn’t know so well: such as “Rave On” and “Not Fade Away.” And then I found a 2-CD set that contained even more songs, and the fantabulous Buddy Holly Memorial Collection (3 CDs in that bad boy, including the devastatingly beautiful undubbed versions of some of the apartment recordings made shortly before his death). And then my friend—right there in the middle of book club when I confessed my Buddy Holly crush—produced her boxed set of The Complete Buddy Holly. (I hang with a very good crowd.)
And—yes, it gets even better—I also tracked down a very fine documentary produced by Sir Paul McCartney himself: The Real Buddy Holly Story, which contains live footage of Buddy Holly & the Crickets!!
And—no surprise here, I suppose—somewhere along the line, I just plain fell in love with Buddy Holly.
Here’s the first installment of my Buddy Holly reading spree.