Sunday, October 21, 2007

50 years ago: Buddy Holly “Peggy Sue” charted

Peggy Sue

Buddy Holly & the Crickets

Writer(s): Jerry Allison, Buddy Holly, Norman Petty (see lyrics here)

First Charted: October 21, 1957

Peak: 3 US, 4 HP, 2 CB, 3 HR, 2 RB, 6 UK, 4 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 15.5 video, 40.5 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“What do you think McCartney and Lennon, Dylan, Jagger and Richards, Fogerty, Townshend, and the rest spent their teen years daydreaming about? They wanted to be rock and rollers: stand like Elvis, shout like Little Richard and Jerry Lee, rock like Chuck, testify like Muddy, and speak in music like Buddy Holly…Listen to ‘Peggy Sue’ and you’ll understand why.” PW For the “purpose of getting across…what he’s feeling, [Holly] invents a dozen new ways of using the human voice as a communicative vehicle.” PW

“Peggy Sue” was originally going to be named “Cindy Lou” after Buddy Holly’s baby niece. However, Jerry Allison, the Crickets’ drummer, suggested the name change to get back into the good graces with his girlfriend “Peggy Sue,” with whom he’d recently broken up. TB It worked. The two eloped on July 22, 1958. TB

The song was recorded at producer Norman Petty’s studio in Clovin, New Mexico on July 1, 1957 (actually before Holly charted with his #1 hit “That’ll Be the Day”). SS Amazingly, the song only features Holly and Allison. They started out trying to record it with a calypso feel, but it didn’t work. Then Holly suggested Allison do some drum rolls PW “which he did on a snare drum with the snares turned off.” TB This gave the song “a dynamic rock ‘n’ roll aspect.” TB Critic Dave Marsh called it “the biggest drum beats in rock and roll history.” DM

“It’s all that Holly can do to summon the strength to sing over them, and the guitar has to race to keep up.” DM He ends up “playing his rhythm guitar part entirely with speedy downstrokes.” TB Jimmy Guterman called it “the greatest rhythm guitar solo in all rock ‘n’ roll.” SS “The lyrics are childlike in their simplicity and repetition, but Holly belts them out with such conviction and sensuality that no one can doubt his intense ardor for this woman.” SS The song has “an almost throwaway quality [that] lifts the song and makes it irresistible.” TC


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First posted 3/26/2023; last updated 3/30/2023.

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