Charles Hardin Holley (September 7, 1936 – February 3, 1959), known professionally as Buddy Holly, was an American singer-songwriter and a pioneer of rock and roll. Although his success lasted only a year and a half before his death in an airplane crash, Holly is described as “the single most influential creative force in early rock and roll.” His work and innovations inspired and influenced contemporary and later musicians, notably the Beatles, Elvis Costello, the Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan, and had a profound influence on popular music. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Holly number 13 on its list of the 100 greatest artists of all time.
Holly saw Elvis Presley sing in Lubbock in 1955, and began to do a rockabilly style, similar to the Sun Records sound, which had a strong rhythm acoustic and slap bass. On October 15, 1955, Holly, along with Bob Montgomery and Larry Welborn, opened the bill for Presley in Lubbock, catching the eye of a Nashville talent scout. Holly’s transition to rock continued when he opened for Bill Haley & His Comets at a local show.
Decca Records signed him to a contract in February 1956, following this performance, misspelling his name as “Holly”. He thereafter adopted the misspelled name for his professional career. Holly formed his own band, later to be called The Crickets. Among the tracks he recorded was an early version of “That’ll Be The Day”, which took its title from a line that John Wayne’s character says repeatedly in the 1956 film The Searchers.
On May 27, 1957, “That’ll Be The Day” was released as a single, credited to the Crickets to try to bypass Decca’s claimed legal rights. When the song became a hit, Decca decided not to press its claim. “That’ll Be the Day” topped the Billboard US “Best Sellers in Stores” chart on September 23, and was No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart for three weeks in November. The Crickets performed “That’ll Be the Day” and “Peggy Sue” on The Ed Sullivan Show on December 1. They also sang “Peggy Sue” on The Arthur Murray Party on December 29 and were given a polite introduction by Kathryn Murray.