This time of year always brings Buddy Holly to mind. The songs never get old. The story never gets any less poignant: that of young talent dying well before its time. That spot in the fenceline still has flowers next to it, and it's still just as dark, with cornfields covered in light snow.
Thanks to YouTube, now we can hear Buddy's voice for ourselves, self-recorded for his own purposes.
The background: In 1956, Buddy Holly recorded several songs in Nashville , working with producer Owen Bradley. Bradley would later become famous producing Patsy Cline, Brenda Lee, Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty and others. One of the songs Buddy recorded was "That'll Be The Day". Unfortunately, Owen Bradley hated rock n' roll, and the production was horrible. The songs were left "in the can". As a result of Decca's seeming lack of interest, Buddy ended up in New Mexico, recording That'll Be The Day with his own arrangement. This would become the famous version, the monster hit of rock n roll.
The problem was his contract with Decca. Decca owned all rights to the songs Buddy recorded. According to his contract, he couldn't release any version of them. He decided to call Decca and try to get a release from them. For some reason, he secretly taped the conversation.
Decca refused to give him the rights to his own song, but fortunately for the world, Buddy eventually violated his contract by releasing his version of That'll Be the Day.
Here's Buddy Holly, in his own words, fifty-three years ago:
Buddy Holly, R.I.P. February 3, 1959
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