Five-year-old Buddy enters a talent contest along with his older brothers Larry and Travis. Though his brothers grease his toy violin to keep him from interrupting their performance, he won the $5 first-place prize singing “Down the River Of Memories.”
Buddy’s first recording is “My Two-Timin’ Woman,” a Hank Snow song, which he sings into a wire recorder.
Holley and Bob Montgomery make a home recording of “Take These Shackles From My Heart and I’ll Just Pretend.” The following year they make a home recording of Bill Monroe’s “Footprints In The Snow.”
September – radio station KDAV in Lubbock begins broadcasting what is considered the first all-country music format in the United States. The Sunday Party aired by Hipockets Duncan, a disc jockey and talent scout, gives local musicians an opportunity to perform live. Buddy teams with Jack Neal to form the duo Buddy and Jack, and their show is broadcast live from KDAV during The Sunday Party.
Alternate picture for the 1954 Lubbock High School Yearbook
Feb. 19 – Holley, Montgomery, and Larry Welborn perform “Flower Of My Heart,” a song written by Bob, for a contest at Lubbock High School. The song wins the competition and is chosen as the 1954 Senior Class Song.
Jack Neal marries, and Holley teams up with Montgomery to form Buddy and Bob, who advertise themselves as Western and Bop performers. The Buddy and Jack Show is replaced by the Buddy and Bob Show on The Sunday Party.
Feb. 13 – Holley and Montgomery open for Elvis Presley at the Fair Park Coliseum in Lubbock.
May 27 – Holley graduates from Lubbock High School.
Oct. 14 – At the Fair Park Coliseum, Holley, Bob Montgomery, and Larry Welborn perform in a show featuring Bill Haley and The Comets and Jimmy Rodgers Snow. Eddie Crandall, a Nashville agent for country singer Marty Robbins, watches their performance.
Oct. 28 – Holley, Bob Montgomery, and Larry Welborn open for headliner Marty Robbins at the Fair Park Coliseum. Eddie Crandall again watches Holley’s performance.
Dec. 2-3 – Eddie Crandall writes to “Pappy” Dave Stone, radio station KDAV station manager, asking for exclusive rights to help Holley obtain a recording contract. Crandall sends Stone a telegram asking that Holley and his group send him a recording of four original songs.
Lewis and Sally Nesman, Wichita Falls, 1994
By kind courtesy of Sally Nesman
Dec. 7 – At Nesman Recording Studio in Wichita Falls, Holley, Don Guess and J.I. Allison record “Love Me”, “Don’t Come Back Knockin’”, “Moonlight Baby”, and “I Guess I Was Just A Fool” which are submitted on acetate to Decca.
Jan. 23-25 – Holley negotiated a recording contract with Decca and a three-year songwriter’s contract with Cedarwood Publishing Co.
Jan. 26 – Holley, Sonny Curtis, and Guess begin their first recording sessions for Decca at Owen Bradley’s Barn in Nashville under the name Buddy and The Two Tones.
Feb. 8 – Holley receives Decca’s contract from Jim Denny of Cedarwood Publishing. Holley’s name has been misspelled, inadvertently dropping the ‘e’ in Holley. As a result, Holley adopts the Holly spelling for his last name.
May 6-10 – Holly joins Faron Young’s Grand Ole Opry Show on its Oklahoma tour. Other performers included Ray Price, Carl Perkins, Tommy Collins, Jimmy & Johnny, Tom Pritchard, Red Sovine, and Joe Vincent.
July 22 – Holly, Curtis, Guess, and J.I. Allison are in Nashville for the second Decca recording session at Bradley’s Barn. The song list from the session includes “I’m Changing All Those Changes,” “Girl On My Mind,” “Rock Around With Ollie Vee,” “Ting-A-Ling” and “That’ll Be The Day.”
Nov. 15 – Holly is in Nashville for the third and final recording session with Decca at Bradley’s Barn. “Rock Around With Ollie Vee,” “Modern Don Juan,” and “You Are My One Desire” are recorded.
Jan. 22 – Decca sends Holly a letter informing him that his renewal option is not being exercised and his contract will expire on Jan. 26, 1957.
Feb. 24-25 – Holly travels to the Norman Petty Studio in Clovis, N.M., and records “I’m Looking For Someone To Love” and the hit version of “That’ll Be The Day.” Holly sings and plays lead guitar; Larry Welborn plays bass; Allison plays drums; and Niki Sullivan, Gary Tollett and Ramona Tollett sing background vocals on “That’ll Be The Day.”
February-March – Holly is restricted from recording any of the songs that were done under his contract with Decca. A name is needed in order to release the new version of “That’ll Be The Day.” Allison searches through an encyclopedia under “Insects” in order to find a name for the band. They consider briefly, then discard “The Beetles” before selecting “The Crickets.” Over the next month, the band members of The Crickets come together: Holly, vocals and lead guitar; Allison, drums; Mauldin, bass; and Sullivan, rhythm guitar.
March 19 – The Crickets sign a contract with Bob Thiele in which Coral, a subsidiary of Decca, agrees to purchase masters for “That’ll Be The Day” and “I’m Looking For Someone To Love.” This will be the working contract for The Crickets, and their songs will be released under the Brunswick label.
May 29 – “Not Fade Away” and “Everyday” are recorded in Clovis. Instrumentation includes use of a cardboard box, knee slaps and a celeste.
July 1 – “Peggy Sue,” “Oh Boy,” “Listen To Me,” and “I’m Gonna Love You Too” are recorded in Clovis.
July 16 – From Bob Thiele, Holly learns “That’ll Be The Day” has sold 50,000 records, and an additional 28,000 have been pressed. That evening, Holly goes to see Little Richard perform at Lubbock’s Cotton Club.
July 23 – Bob Thiele sends a registered letter to inform The Crickets that Coral will renew their recording contract.
July 30 – Holly signs a contract for a 67-day tour package beginning in September. Aug. 2-8 – Buddy Holly and The Crickets begin their first major tour at the Howard Theater in Washington, D.C., where “That’ll Be The Day” is No. 2 on the charts. Other acts featured on the tour include Clyde McPhatter, The Cadillacs, Edna McGriff, Otis Rush, Lee Andrews and The Hearts, and Oscar and Oscar. Aug. 9-16 – Buddy Holly & The Crickets perform at the Royal Theater in Baltimore, Md.
Aug. 16-22 – Buddy Holly & The Crickets perform at the Apollo Theater in New York City.
Aug. 26 – Buddy Holly & The Crickets perform “That’ll Be The Day” on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand in Philadelphia.
Aug. 30-Sept. 8 – The Alan Freed Holiday Show at the Paramount Theater in New York features Buddy Holly & The Crickets. Other performers included Little Richard, The Del Vikings, The Diamonds, Mickey & Sylvia, The Moonglows, The Five Keys, Larry Williams, and King Curtis.
Sept. 21 – “Cash Box” features a cover photograph of Buddy Holly & The Crickets pointing to a circled date of Oct. 1, 1957. “That’ll Be The Day” is expected to pass the 1 million mark in sales on this date. Two days later Billboard lists “That’ll Be The Day” as the No. 1 Best Seller in stores.
Oct. 11 – Buddy Holly & The Crickets are featured in the British magazine “New Musical Express,” which states: “If someone asks you where the hit records come from these days, you won’t be far wrong if you reply Deep In The Heart Of Texas.”
Nov. 24 – The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal carries an article under the headline “Lubbock Combo on Network Show Next Sunday.” This article refers to a scheduled appearance by Buddy Holly & The Crickets on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Nov. 29 – Sid Varnes, “Cash Box”’s editor-in-chief, sends a telegram to The Crickets informing them that the Juke Box Operators of America have voted them “Most Promising Vocal Group of 1957.”
Dec. 1 – Buddy Holly & The Crickets perform “That’ll be the Day” and “Peggy Sue” on The Ed Sullivan Show. Sullivan calls Buddy back on stage after the second song for an impromptu interview and to solicit another “very nice hand for these Texas youngsters.”
Dec. 4-5 – Buddy Holly & The Crickets return to Lubbock. Niki Sullivan leaves the group, citing the harsh tour schedule as his reason. Norman Petty signs contracts for Buddy Holly & The Crickets to participate in three tours, including the Paramount Theater in New York, the America’s Greatest Teenage Recording Stars, and a short Florida tour.
Dec. 17 and 19 – “Little Baby,” “Look At Me,” and (You’re So Square) “Baby I Don’t Care” are recorded in Clovis.
Jan. 2 – Norman Petty signs a contract for Buddy Holly & The Crickets to perform on tour and in radio promotions in Australia, beginning Jan. 30.
Jan. 25 – Bob Thiele of Coral presents Holly and Petty with the gold record for “Peggy Sue.” “Rave On” and “That’s My Desire” are recorded at Bell Sound Studios in New York.
Jan. 26 – Buddy Holly & The Crickets perform “Oh Boy” on The Ed Sullivan Show in New York City.
Jan. 27 – Buddy Holly & The Crickets and Petty fly from New York to Honolulu. The same evening, they perform two shows with Jerry Lee Lewis, Paul Anka and Jodie Sands.
Jan. 28-29 – Buddy Holly & The Crickets travel from Hawaii to Sydney, Australia, for a six-day tour. Others on the tour include Jerry Lee Lewis, Paul Anka and Jodie Sands. Variety runs an article about the Honolulu show under the headline: “Rock ‘n’ Roll Reaches Hawaii & Makes Good,” and describes “turn-away crowds.”
Jan. 31 – In Newcastle, Australia, Pat Barton, a local deejay, interviews Buddy. During the interview, Buddy denies that The Crickets, or any group, will fill Elvis Presley’s shoes while he is in the Army.
Feb. 1 – A review of the Newcastle performance appears in the local newspaper under the headline, “Rock Show Quiet,” an apparent comparative reference to the wild audience behavior at the Little Richard concert the year before.
Feb. 20-25 – Buddy Holly & The Crickets join The Big Gold Records Stars tour (informally known as The Florida Tour). The tour also stars the Everly Brothers, Bill Haley and The Comets, Jerry Lee Lewis, and The Royalteens.
Buddy Holly 1958, BBC
Colourized by Peter F. Dunnet
March 11 – Following a performance in Birmingham, England, a review reads: “Buddy Holly, leader of the group, is a studious-looking young man who totes his electric guitar like a sawn-off shot-gun and carries around a giant-sized amplifier which even made the Town Hall organ pipes flinch. Mr. Holly is 70 per cent of the act. He plays and sings with brash exuberance, and adds a few Presley-like wiggles which had the teenage audience squealing with delight. The rest of the group consists of a bass player whose ability was lost in the noise and a drummer who plays with sledge-hammer precision.”
March 25 – Before the second show scheduled in Hammersmith, London, the last performance of the English tour, Mauldin knocks the caps off of Holly’s two front teeth during a scuffle. Buddy repairs the damage with chewing gum and performs the second show with the gum spread over his front teeth.
May 3 – During shows for the Big Beat tour at the Boston Arena, a Navy sailor is stabbed, others are injured, and arrests are made outside of the concert hall. Alan Freed, the tour’s promoter, is charged with inciting a riot, but the charges are later dropped. The incident, which becomes know as the “Boston riot,” results in the cancellation of scheduled shows in Troy, N.Y.; Providence, R.I.; New Haven, Conn.; and Newark, N.J.
May 27 – Buddy Holly & The Crickets record “It’s So Easy” and “Lonesome Tears” in Clovis. They are joined by Allsup on lead guitar. The next day, “Heartbeat” is recorded, and Allsup again plays lead guitar while another session musician, George Atwood, plays bass. Brunswick releases the single “Think It Over” and “Fool’s Paradise.”
June 9-18 – Holly, Mauldin and Petty fly to Los Angeles for a promotional tour, and are photographed at Southern Music Publishing in Hollywood. In San Francisco, Holly is interviewed on the Ted Randal Show at KPIX-TV. As Mauldin and Petty return to Lubbock, Holly flies to New York where he meets Maria Elena Santiago at Peer Southern Music. He proposes marriage the first day they meet, and they are wed within two months.
July 8 – During a performance at Electric Park in Waterloo, Iowa, a photographer asks Holly to remove his glasses for a picture. Holly replies: “I never have pictures made without my glasses.”
July 21-22 – Allison and Peggy Sue Gerron apply for a marriage license from the county courthouse in Lubbock. They are married the next day in Honey Grove.
Aug. 11 – Lubbock property records list “Charles Buddy Holley” in an agreement with his father, L.O. Holley, for a six-room, four-bath, brick-veneer house to be built on Buddy’s property in Bobalet Heights.
BUDDY'S WEDDING DAY
Colourized by Peter F. Dunnet
Aug. 15 – Buddy Holly and Maria Elena Santiago are married at the Holley home in Lubbock. Parents L.O. and Ella Holley, brothers Larry and Travis, sister Patricia and the spouses of his brothers and sister are in attendance along with J.I. and Peggy Sue Allison and Mauldin. Holly’s record, “Now We’re One,” is played at the ceremony. The Hollys and the Allisons honeymoon for two weeks in Acapulco, Mexico.
Sept. 10 – A session for Waylon Jennings is produced by Buddy for his newly founded company, Prism Records. The recording session in Clovis produces Jole Blon and When Sin Stops, with Buddy on rhythm guitar, Atwood on bass, Bo Clark on drums, and King Curtis on saxophone.
Oct. 28 – Buddy Holly & The Crickets appear on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand on WFIL-TV in Philadelphia. Introducing Holly, Clark calls him, “…a man who creates songs, performs them, and has a great deal to do with the activities of our music world, and he’s still a very young man and a successful one at that.” Buddy lip-syncs “Heartbeat” and “It’s So Easy.”
Dec. 11 – In a letter to his parents, Holly relates: “I’ve been writing a few songs. Some of them are fairly good. The best one to date is a ‘top secret’ one titled “Peggy Sue Got Married.” Please don’t mention it to anyone either. I want it to be a complete surprise.”
Dec. 27 – While at KLLL radio station in Lubbock, Holly is prompted by a bet to write a song in less than 30 minutes. Holly composes “You’re The One,” which is recorded on the station’s acetate machine. Buddy sings and plays guitar, while Waylon Jennings and Ray “Slim” Corbin, the station’s deejays, provide percussion with hand-claps.
Jan. 20-22 – Holly, Tommy Allsup, Waylon Jennings and Carl Bunch leave New York and travel by train to Chicago to rendezvous with the other artists on the Winter Dance Party tour. From Chicago, the artists are scheduled to travel by bus on the tour route. Other performers include: Ritchie Valens, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, Dion and The Belmonts, and Frankie Sardo.
Jan. 23 – The Winter Dance Party starts the tour with performances in Milwaukee. The tour will continue through Feb. 15 with scheduled stops in Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky and Ohio.
Feb. 1 – The Winter Dance Party is stranded en route to Appleton, Wis., when the bus breaks down. With temperatures at 30 degrees below zero and no source of heat, the passengers burn newspapers in the aisles to keep warm. Sheriffs’ cars pick up the freezing entertainers and Carl Bunch is admitted to the hospital suffering from frostbite. With one performance cancelled, the Winter Dance Party continues and performs at the Riverside Ballroom in Green Bay, Wis.
Feb. 2 – Holly, Jennings and Allsup perform and serve as back-up musicians during the performance at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa.
Feb. 3 – Shortly after the performance in Clear Lake, Holly, J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson and Ritchie Valens board a small aircraft chartered to take them to their next performance. Soon after take-off, the plane crashes, killing all aboard.
Source: The Buddy Holly Center, 1801 Crickets Ave., Lubbock.