We’re now just a couple of weeks away from 3rd February, the day that marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Buddy Holly.
To commemorate the greatest loss that rock and roll has ever suffered, the Proud Gallery in London is staging an exhibition of photographs of the great man, running from 29th January through into April.
And amongst the pictures on display are some of those taken on Buddy’s 1958 British tour by Harry Hammond, as featured in my book, Halfway to Paradise. As a bonus, here’s one that I’m particularly fond of, but which didn’t make it into the book (© V&A Images):
Since I wasn’t actually born when Buddy died, I came to his work rather late, and did so via the pop music of 1975. That year both Mud and Showaddywaddy had hits with his songs (Oh Boy and Heartbeat respectively). Intrigued, I went back to the source and discovered the most wondrous collection of songs I’d ever heard. I still remember hearing Peggy Sue for the first time and being blown away by the sudden break into falsetto, as though his exuberance could only be expressed through the most extraordinary vocal contortions.
I have yet to hear a better body of work in popular music than those 100 or so tracks that Buddy laid down in a tragically short period. The sheer range of his material, his restless curiosity about what could be done in a recording studio, continues to fascinate me, and I continue to wonder what else he might have achieved had he not died at the age of twenty-two.
There haven’t been very many individuals working in rock who can genuinely be considered as great artists, judged by the same standards that apply elsewhere. Elvis, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie come to mind, but not many more. Despite the brevity of his career, Buddy Holly is in the same category.