Holly, Buddy, 1936–59, American rock singer, songwriter, and guitarist, b. Lubbock, Tex., as Charles Hardin Holley. He performed country and western music while a teenager, but influenced by black rhythm and blues and by Elvis Presley he switched to the rock 'n' roll in the mid-1950s. His band, the Crickets, was one of the first to use the instrumentation that became the rock standard: two guitars, bass, and drums. Holly's sweet tenor with its frequent hiccuping hesitations, his melodic songs, and the group's innovative studio work set them apart from other early bands. They scored their first hit with "That'll Be the Day" (1957), which as followed by "Peggy Sue" and "Oh Boy" (1957) and "Maybe Baby" and "Rave On" (1958). Holly left the Crickets in 1958, but his promising solo career ended when he died in a plane crash while on tour. Killed with him were two other popular young rockers, Richie Valens and J. P. Richardson (the Big Bopper). Holly, who influenced many in later generations of rock artists, was among the first group of musicians inducted (1986) into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
See biographies by J. Goldrosen and J. Beecher (1987, repr. 2001), E. Amburn (1995), and P. Norman (1996); L. Lehmer, The Day the Music Died (1997, repr. 2004).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.