An enormously important and influential performer, Buddy Holly started in his native Texas doing country music with boyhood friend Bob Montgomery, eventually adding R&B numbers to the set list after meeting Elvis Presley.
He recorded early rockabilly sides in Nashville, resulting in the Decca singles "Blue Days, Black Nights" (April 1956) and "Modern Don Juan" (December 1956).
But success didn't come until he formed the Crickets and recorded in Norman Petty's New Mexico studio, producing the number one hit "That'll Be the Day" (May 1957).
Holly and Petty experimented in the studio, utilizing double-tracking ("Words of Love" [June 1957]), different forms of echo ("Peggy Sue" [September 1957], a second gold-selling Top Ten hit), and close-miking techniques, now commonplace in the industry. Holly recorded under his own name and the name of the Crickets interchangeably ("That'll Be the Day" was credited to the group, "Peggy Sue" to him alone).
With the Crickets, he had the further chart hits "Oh, Boy!" (October 1957) (another Top Ten), "Maybe Baby" (February 1958), and "Think It Over"/"Fool's Paradise" (May 1958), while "Rave On" (April 1958) was a Holly "solo" hit.
Holly went solo for real during 1958, however, marrying and relocating to New York. He charted with "Early in the Morning" (July 1958) and "Heartbeat" (November 1958), and released "It Doesn't Matter Anymore"/"Raining in My Heart" (January 1959) before embarking on the Winter Dance Party package tour, during which, on February 3, he, the Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens were killed in an airplane crash. After Holly's death, much of his earlier pre-Crickets music was overdubbed by Petty, using the Fireballs, to keep up with fan demand for more product. In England, where "It Doesn't Matter Anymore" went to number one in the wake of his death, Holly continued to score hits through the mid-'60s, and he exerted tremendous influence on the developing beat groups both for his music and for his self-contained approach to his work -- writing his own songs, playing them with his own group.
As late as 1978, Holly could still top the U.K. charts with a hits collection, 20 Golden Greats. Buddy Holly's moment in the spotlight lasted barely 18 months, and the movie version of his life story only got it about half right, but his music still sounds fresh and continues to influence musicians to this day.