Sunday, September 23, 2007

Buddy Holly hit #1 with “That’ll Be the Day” 50 years ago today (9/23/1957)

Last updated 4/13/2020.

That’ll Be the Day

Buddy Holly & the Crickets

Writer(s): Buddy Holly/ J.I. Allison/ Norman Petty (see lyrics here)


Released: May 27, 1957


First Charted: July 27, 1957


Peak: 11 US, 3 CB, 3 HR, 2 RB, 13 UK (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.0 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 3.0 radio, 10.46 video, -- streaming

Awards:

About the Song:

“That’ll Be the Day” came about as the result of a John Wayne movie. Buddy Holly and drummer Jerry Allison went to see the Western The Searchers. Whenever a character would suggest something that wasn’t likely to happen, Wayne would proclaim, “That’ll be the day.” SF One night at Jerry’s house, Buddy suggested that it would be nice if they could record a hit song, to which Jerry replied, “That’ll be the day.” SF

Holly recorded the song with Allison, guitarist Sonny Curtis, and bassist Don Guest AMG in Nashville in 1956 SF with a more country-oriented vibe than the version that would become a hit. NRR Allison has said that Decca producer Owen Bradley said, “That’s the worst song I’ve ever heard.” KL

When that contract expired in January 1957, Holly took the song to Norman Petty, who’d impressed him with his production on Buddy Knox’s “Party Doll.” BR1 Technically, Holly wasn’t contractually permitted to re-record the song. However, Holly & company could cut it under a group name. KL After rejecting the name The Beetles, they settled on The Crickets “because of their happy, chirping sound.” KL

Later, the Beatles moniker re-surfaced for the Fab-Four – inspired by the Crickets, and especially “That’ll Be the Day,” since it was one of the first songs John Lennon learned. HL

A year after the second recording of the song, Holly was killed in a plane crash on 2/3/59, a tragedy often known as “the day the music died” because it also took the lives of fellow rock singers the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens. His career was short, but with the “endearing hiccup in Holly’s voice, the bouncy rockabilly beat, [and] an intriguingly enigmatic story line” AMG the song “That’ll Be the Day” would live on as one of early rock and roll’s most classic tunes.


Resources and Related Links:

  • Buddy Holly’s DMDB Encyclopedia entry
  • AMG All Music Guide review by Bruce Eder
  • BR1 Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). New York, NY: Billboard Books. Page 26.
  • HL Michael Heatley and Spencer Leigh (1998). Behind the Song: The Stories of 100 Great Pop & Rock Classics. London, England: Blandford Books. Page 12.
  • KL Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh (2005). 1000 UK Number One Hits: The Stories Behind Every Number One Single Since 1952. London, Great Britain: Omnibus Press. Page 46.
  • NRR National Recording Registry
  • SF Songfacts

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