Bill Hillman's
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Buddy and Bill : Lubbock Texas 2012



Jerry Allison, Joe Mauldin and Buddy Holly in 1957


Photo courtesy of Bill Stadnyk



Canadian fan Bill Stadnyk using Buddy's mic in the Clovis NM studio


As a teenager and a "wanna-be guitarist" growing up in the 1950s
I was strongly influenced by Buddy Holly and the Crickets. 
The "day the music died" affected me deeply, but I still had my treasured 78s of his music. 

While researching the Beatles for my Tracking the Beatles in Hamburg project
I was glad to see that Holly had much the same effect on the young Beatles growing up in Liverpool --
even the choice of the name "Beatles" was influenced by the "Crickets."

Years later I was thrilled to be on stage with one of Buddy's famous Crickets - Sonny Curtis.
Larry Henley, Bill Hillman, Dean and Mark: The Newbeats and John Bishop
Our band had opened the Fall Festival of Stars Show at the Winnipeg Auditorium in 1964.
We then backed Larry Henley and the Newbeats 
after which we lent our amplifiers to the headliners:
Roger Miller with Thumbs Carlisle and
The Everly Brothers who's featured band member was Sonny Curtis.
My big regret was having opportunity for only a little backstage chat with Sonny.

From the Sonny Curtis Website
J.I. Allison, Keith Richards, Joe B. Mauldin, Sonny Curtis
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction


Buddy Holly: 50 Years After The Music Died
February 3, 2009
Fifty years after his death at 22, rock 'n' roll founding father Buddy Holly is still cool. On Feb. 3, 1959, Buddy Holly, along with J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson and Ritchie Valens, died in a plane crash while touring the Midwest. Holly would have been 72 by now — and probably still rocking and rolling. Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and Elvis Costello have all paid tribute to Holly as a major influence.

But the music itself wasn't his only contribution. Holly was among the first artists to use the studio as an instrument: He spent days crafting songs and experimenting with techniques that were still new in the recording business.

It worked. Buddy Holly and the Crickets shot to the top of the charts just months after the band was formed in 1957. Elvis Presley had the sex appeal, but it was Holly's boy-next-door charm punctuated with horn-rimmed glasses and bow ties, as well as his Southern drawl, that fans adored. Paul McCartney, who in 1976 bought the rights to the entire Holly catalog, remembers seeing him perform on a Sunday night in 1958 at the London Palladium. The Beatles were huge fans. John Lennon wore his horn-rimmed glasses "proudly," McCartney says — after seeing Holly's trademark black frames.

'Peggy Sue'
By David C. Barnett ~ December 8, 2000
Buddy Holly was a skinny kid with glasses, but in his short lifetime, he became one of rock 'n' roll's founding fathers. Holly, who was known for his Stratocaster guitar and trademark hiccup style of singing, influenced everyone from The Beatles to Bob Dylan. As part of the NPR 100, a list of the most important American musical works of the 20th century, WCPN's David C. Barnett has the story of one of Holly's biggest hits, "Peggy Sue."

Before Buddy Holly became an international rock 'n' roll star, he was a local hero in Lubbock, Texas. That's where Niki Sullivan, who later became Holly's rhythm guitarist, first heard him play. "We used to go to the skating rink and watch him perform," Sullivan says. "Or if he were performing in a live show, say at an opening of a car dealership and things like that, that's how we were getting hooked into music. Because all we had to listen to in those days was the big-band music and, being in west Texas, mostly country and western."

Country & Western
Charles Hardin "Buddy" Holly got his start in the music business singing country and western songs. A Decca Records talent scout caught his act at the skating rink one day and signed him to a limited recording contract.

In a Nashville studio, Holly was given three chances to sell record executives on his music. But they weren't too crazy about his blend of rockabilly tunes with more traditional country ballads. Holly had especially high hopes for a song that he and his drummer pal Jerry Allison had written based on a line from the 1956 John Wayne film The Searchers: "That'll Be the Day."

Norman Petty
Jerry Allison recalls being nervous recording under the strict rules of famous Nashville producer Owen Bradley. He says it contrasted greatly with the laid-back attitude of Norman Petty, who'd recorded some demo tracks for them in a small studio he ran in Clovis, N.M. After the tense sessions in Nashville, the musicians decided to record exclusively with Petty, and the results of that relaxed atmosphere were immediately evident.

In between short tours of the region, The Crickets' members spent most of their time at Petty's studio. They worked long hours, sometimes sleeping there overnight rather than make the 100-mile trek back to Lubbock. Sullivan says Petty was a perfectionist, in spite of the imperfect conditions. "When you hear those recordings, you're hearing one of the cleanest, crispest sounds ever," Sullivan says. "And it's amazing that he did it in Clovis, N.M., next to a highway that ... Frequently, we were interrupted by trucks passing because [of the] rattling windows."

Cindy Lou
It was during one of those sessions in the summer of 1957 that Buddy Holly, bassist Joe Mauldin, rhythm guitarist Sullivan and drummer Jerry Allison began to work out one of their biggest hits. "Buddy had a song started called 'Cindy Lou,' " Allison says. "I think he had a niece named Cindy Lou, or Cindy, but it was sort of like, 'Cindy, oh, Cindy / Cindy don't let me down.' That Harry Belafonte kind of feel. 'Cindy Lou, Cindy Lou / Oh, how my heart yearns for you, oh, Cindy.' " Sullivan says Petty was not impressed. "Norman says, 'Well, that cha-cha beat isn't going to work,' " Sullivan says. "He says, 'You're going to have to do something else,' and that's when Buddy said, 'Jerry, why don't you try paradiddles? It'll give us a four-four beat. We'll speed it up a little bit.' "

A paradiddle is a basic practice pattern for a drummer; it involves rapid strokes, which create a rolling sound. Allison agreed to the modified rhythm, and suggested one more change. "I had a girlfriend at the time named Peggy Sue, so I talked him into changing it to 'Peggy Sue,' and then we finished it with a different feel," Allison says. "You know, like the straight 8s, kind of, 'If you knew / Peggy Sue.' " The result creates a relentless rhythm that keeps rolling at the listener. Petty accentuated that effect by playing with the reverb.

A Sense Of Joy
"They kind of used the studio in the '50s the way people like The Beatles started to use it in the '60s," guitarist Marshall Crenshaw says, "which was a sort of combination laboratory and playground." Crenshaw, who was 4 when he first heard Buddy Holly, says he was hooked by the energy in the music. "There's a real sense of joy in almost everything that he ever recorded," Crenshaw says. "And everything about those records appealed to me when I was a kid, the way he played the guitar. You know, he'd just make the whole thing ring, you know, and it just sounded very celebratory and just made me really happy and excited."

But for all the guitar technique, all the percussive experiments and Holly's unique hiccup style of singing, Allison says there wasn't any master plan to be on the cutting edge of anything. "Nah, we just hoped somebody would buy our records so we could go on the road and play," he says.

On The Road With Peggy Sue
When they took "Peggy Sue" on the road, Sullivan says the reaction was electrifying. "We were in Idaho. Of all places to break a song was in Idaho. Those kids jumped up and went crazy with 'Peggy Sue,' and we don't still know — I mean, the ones of us remaining still wouldn't be able to tell you if it was the song or it was the combination of songs, or kids just needed an outlet. But whatever it did, it worked."

And not because of the lyrics, either. "When you listen to that song," Allison says, "tell me what in the world — why anybody would buy a song with those lyrics. But it's the interpretation that comes across and that driving rock, and it just bites you, you know?"

Since its release, the song has sold more than 5 million copies. But Buddy Holly had no idea just how long the music that he helped create would last, and it seems he didn't really think it should, as revealed in a 1957 interview with Canadian disc jockey Red Robinson.

Red Robinson: What do you think about rock 'n' roll music? How long do you think it will last: another six months, seven months?
Buddy Holly: Oh, possibly, yeah.
Robinson: Think after Christmas things may change a bit, then?
Holly: It might pick back up, but I really doubt it. I'd prefer singing something a little more quieter anyhow.

Holly historian Griggs to be inducted into West Texas Walk of Fame
Bill Griggs, internationally respected Buddy Holly and rock ’n’ roll historian,
will be inducted into the West Texas Walk of Fame at 6:30 p.m. today.
Lubbock Online ~ July 30, 2010
“The Buddy Holly Story” is not William Frederick “Bill” Griggs’ favorite movie. In fact, that 1978 movie would not stand a chance even if the filmmakers responsible had gotten their facts straight. Instead, the sentimental Griggs remains particularly fond of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Now being treated for stage-4 cancer, Griggs, 69, maintains an extremely positive attitude, yet mentions more than once that he, too, has enjoyed a wonderful life. He said physicians give him “nine months to a year — or who knows, maybe longer (to live).”

Griggs, respected internationally as a music historian, will be inducted at 6:30 p.m. today into the West Texas Walk of Fame. His name will be placed on a plaque near a statue of Buddy Holly, the man whose life Griggs spent years researching. “I can claim good friends in 34 different countries,” he said. “My life has been wonderful.”

Cachet envelopes commemorating today’s induction also will be sold; proceeds benefit the South Plains Stamp Club. It was only a year after Holly’s statue was unveiled that Griggs moved from Connecticut to Lubbock. Griggs would later say, “Buddy was gone by then. But everyone else was still here. So I got here as quick as I could.”

He first visited Lubbock in 1968 on vacation, then moved here permanently in 1981. Not being from Lubbock originally helped him maintain an objectivity, he said, when reporting about Holly and other West Texas musicians. For that matter, Griggs also pointed out that he never placed Holly on a pedestal of any sort. He began reporting on Holly, he said, because, “I didn’t see anyone else doing it.”

When he founded the international Buddy Holly Memorial Society in 1975, operating under an agreement with the Holly estate, he lost track of the number of people who told him, “I thought I was the only fan left.” Within 15 years, BHMS membership totaled more than 5,500 in 50 states and 34 countries.

His memorial society gave way to publishing Reminiscing magazine. Griggs later focused on a monthly magazine called Rockin’ 50s, which he published through 2004 and also became the name of his business. A career highlight was his publication of a five-booklet set, “Buddy Holly Day-By-Day,” in which Griggs documented where Holly was, and what he was doing, on all but a dozen dates during the artist’s entire career. Seven years of research were required for the 1998 project.

Griggs has lured a significant number of international visitors to Lubbock. He also was intent on exposing Lubbock’s younger generation to its most famous native son, and gave multiple speeches at Lubbock schools at the request of city officials. Griggs mentioned this week that he actually became a fan of the Crickets before Holly. (“That’ll Be the Day,” he said, initially was credited to the Crickets.) He first became a fan when he heard the Crickets make “a smooth tempo change, never missing a beat,” during that particular song, something he’d never heard young rock musicians even attempt.

Griggs saw the Crickets (and Holly) perform live twice in the 1950s, the first time with member Niki Sullivan and the second after he had left the band. More than two decades later, in 1978, it was Griggs who reunited all of the Crickets on stage for the first time since 1957. He has been interviewed by every major news and music network in the United States and England.

He received three gold records from MCA Records for help in maintaining the authenticity of Holly recordings and at times writing liner notes. For example, Griggs was hired by the Buddy Holly estate in 2000 as a consultant to visit MCA Records in Los Angeles, listen to all of its Holly tapes and explain when, and where, each was recorded, and also what artists are performing on each version of every song.

In 1994, Griggs published a reference book “A Who’s Who of West Texas Rock ’n’ Roll Music,” which included details about almost 100 West Texas solo artists and groups from the 1950s and early 1960s.

Randy Steele, who campaigned for eight years for Griggs to be inducted into the Walk of Fame, will introduce him today.  Steele said, “Bill covered his music subjects like a ‘fan’ would cover them, and he asked the questions to find answers that a ‘fan’ would want to know. As a result, we learned intimate details about the events that shaped West Texas music, and we learned the stories of the people who made that music.”

John Pickering of the Picks, the group that recorded background harmonies for Holly and the Crickets, stated, “When (Griggs) found the Picks in 1981, we were scattered and had given up on anybody ever knowing that we sang with Buddy Holly. We figured that nobody cared. ... He brought all three of the Picks together again in 1982 for the 25th anniversary of our recording sessions with Buddy Holly.”

And Ryan Vandergriff, author of a soon-to-be-published book about Holly’s final tour, said, “Quite simply, Bill Griggs has acted as a major promoter for the city of Lubbock for would-be travelers who ever had even the smallest notion of visiting (Lubbock). “He has done such a wonderful job of promoting hometown-boy-made-good Buddy Holly that Lubbock has become one of the more recognizable cities in America.”

Griggs induction
•Attraction: Induction of music historian/writer Bill Griggs into West Texas Walk of Fame.
•When: 6:30 p.m. today.
•Where: Site of the Buddy Holly statue, presently located in the middle of Eighth Street, west of the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center,
•Admission: Free.
•After induction: Music will be played for approximately 30 minutes by Jack Neal, the late Buddy Holly’s original singing partner, and George Tomsco, formerly of the Fireballs and a 2001 West Texas Walk of Fame inductee.

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The Day the Music Died. . .

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