Buddy Holly’s music still resonates

Buddy Holly
Buddy Holly

Fans of the late rockabilly icon BUDDY HOLLY had occasion to pause and quietly reflect on Wednesday of this week, to mark 80 years from the much-acclaimed singer’s birth in the West Texas town of Lubbock.

Tragically, Buddy died, just 22, in a plane crash on February 3, 1959, on a date often famously referred to as “the day the music died”.

The bespectacled Holly, with a distinctive hiccuppy singing style, topped the charts with 27 Top 40 hits, with That’ll Be The Day going to No 1. Even after his death, Buddy went to No 1 with It Doesn’t Matter Anymore. From rock to country to rhythm and blues, Buddy Holly songs charted consistently for more than 50 years, with his music and his influence continuing today.

In just a few years, Buddy Holly changed the sound and look of rock ‘n’ roll forever, leaving a permanent template that continues to influence musicians all over the world. Holly was raised on traditional country and Bluegrass music, but blended Blues and R&B into his own style, which resulted in some of the most innovative music ever recorded.

In an era when most singers performed songs penned by others, Holly and his Crickets band pioneered a four-piece rock ‘n’ roll band (two guitars, bass and drums) who wrote, arranged, played and recorded their own songs in the studio.

They put out their music, their way, and, in lead role, Buddy created a fresh blueprint for past, present and future rock ‘n’ roll bands. His biggest hits were That’ll Be The Day, Peggy Sue, It Doesn’t Matter Anymore, Oh Boy, Rave On, and Not Fade Away.

Before there was a UK invasion led by the Beatles in America in 1964, there was an American invasion of the UK in 1958 led by Buddy Holly. He toured for a month playing at more than 50 concerts.

Buddy Holly was a musical innovator whose late 1950s recordings are timeless and universally popular.

* Last weekend’s Bluegrass festival at the Ulster-American Folk Park, Omagh, was again a huge success with a fantastic family atmosphere created over three days in pleasant rustic surroundings.

Festival organiser Richard Hurst, said that in spite of having changeable weather over the weekend, the crowd aggregated 6,500.

I was highly impressed by the headliner act Band of Ruhks - Ronnie Bowman, Don Rigsby and Kenny Smith - when I heard them on the main stage on Sunday afternoon. In addition to their varied Bluegrass session, they performed a very enjoyable hour-long gospel routine to close festival proceedings.

The Searson group from the Ottawa Valley in Canada added another quality dimension to the festival and other North American groups Corn Potato String Band and Betse and Clarke duo were also crowd-pleasers, for enthusiasts who travelled from across Northern Ireland, the Irish Republic and UK mainland.

Richard Hurst, driving force behind the festival for the past two decades, said: “We were delighted that visitors came in their thousands to enjoy the very best of the Bluegrass music. The highly proficient musicians who came from the United States, mainland Europe and Canada were impressed by the wonderfully warm reception they received and the special Folk Park environs.

“We are grateful to our sponsors who have partnered with us for their support of the festival. Over 25 years, the festival has built up a loyal, superb fan base who really savour the atmosphere. We’re looking forward to next year’s event,” said Richard.