Remembering Buddy Holly's great musical legacy

In the early hours of February 3 1959, three young rock ‘n’ roll stars, 22-year-old Buddy Holly, J P Richardson, The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens, boarded a four-seater Beechcraft Bonanza aircraft following their show at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa.

Wednesday, 8th January 2020, 10:16 am
AJ - playing Buddy

They were on their way to Moorhead, Minnesota, for a sell-out concert that night.

The plane took off in a blinding snowstorm… and crashed shortly afterwards, killing all three as well as the pilot Roger Peterson. It’s a story which Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story has been telling for three decades now.

It stops off at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton from January 8-11 on its 30th anniversary tour.

AJ Jenks is Buddy in the show – and is enjoying the great response the show has been getting: “So many people have heard the music before, perhaps through their parents,” AJ says. “I am a massive Beatles fan and I also love The Rolling Stones, and if you are into those big bands of that era and you look back at the influence of Buddy Holly, you can see how great he was. I would hear Words of Love, and I would look and I wouldn’t see the words Lennon-McCartney under it. It was a Buddy Holly song. He just influenced so many people.

“He was the first person to write his own music. Usually Elvis and the lads would have the same guys writing songs for them, but then Jerry Lee Lewis came in and started writing, and you also had Buddy. And that’s the big appeal. It is not just carbon-copy rock ‘n’ roll songs. Every song was different. The songs are all so original, and it is amazing what he did in just 18 months that he was around making music. His story is such an incredible story.

“In his own lifetime he was very famous, but he was not really yet at the level that Elvis was at, but just before his death, he was just on the brink of hitting that number-one status. In 1959, Elvis had just entered their version of national service, and a lot of people had started dying down.”

Buddy was poised – and remember, these were the days before social media: “It was just the songs. He was not pulling pranks to get more views on his channels. He was not eating terrible things on a TV show to get noticed. It was just the music, and people loved that music.”

AJ isn’t keen to speculate as to just what Buddy would have gone on to achieve: “We are never going to know. It was the 50s finishing, and then the 60s broke through with new gusto. We can’t know what would have happened, but he was certainly getting more experimental in the studio. He was trying lots of new things… but I do think it is just beautiful to think that he had managed to achieve so much by that age.

“When I heard I had got the role, I watched every little bit of footage I could, recordings and interviews and just him chatting. It was not really standard interviews back then.

“It is just him chatting and half the time talking nonsense, which is better for me. You get a sense of him. You can feel his excitement. He is this cheeky guy. He has not come to adulthood at all.”