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Remembering Buddy: The Definitive Biography Of Buddy Holly

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Buddy Holly was a rock pioneer. In an era when almost all stars were manufactured by the music industry, he wrote his own material, led his own group, played a Fender Strat, and recorded classic songs like “That'll Be the Day,” “Peggy Sue,” “Not Fade Away,” and “It's So Easy,” in the process influencing everyone from the Beatles to Elvis Costello. Remembering Buddy Holly t Buddy Holly was a rock pioneer. In an era when almost all stars were manufactured by the music industry, he wrote his own material, led his own group, played a Fender Strat, and recorded classic songs like “That'll Be the Day,” “Peggy Sue,” “Not Fade Away,” and “It's So Easy,” in the process influencing everyone from the Beatles to Elvis Costello. Remembering Buddy Holly traces in consumate detail Holly's life from his birth in Lubbock, Texas in 1936 to his tragic death in a plane crash twenty-three years later. In celebration of Holly's sixtieth birthday, this definitive biography was once again made available.


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Buddy Holly was a rock pioneer. In an era when almost all stars were manufactured by the music industry, he wrote his own material, led his own group, played a Fender Strat, and recorded classic songs like “That'll Be the Day,” “Peggy Sue,” “Not Fade Away,” and “It's So Easy,” in the process influencing everyone from the Beatles to Elvis Costello. Remembering Buddy Holly t Buddy Holly was a rock pioneer. In an era when almost all stars were manufactured by the music industry, he wrote his own material, led his own group, played a Fender Strat, and recorded classic songs like “That'll Be the Day,” “Peggy Sue,” “Not Fade Away,” and “It's So Easy,” in the process influencing everyone from the Beatles to Elvis Costello. Remembering Buddy Holly traces in consumate detail Holly's life from his birth in Lubbock, Texas in 1936 to his tragic death in a plane crash twenty-three years later. In celebration of Holly's sixtieth birthday, this definitive biography was once again made available.

30 review for Remembering Buddy: The Definitive Biography Of Buddy Holly

  1. 4 out of 5

    Evan

    Find yourself a good quality Walkman, a nicely remastered copy of a Buddy Holly hits CD, and a pair of headphones with better-than-average treble response and sonic transparency and listen to Buddy's May 1957 recording of Not Fade Away and tell me it's not the most perfect and beautiful thing in all of rock and roll. That recording (the b-side of the hit "Oh Boy") was never a hit in its own right in its time; only becoming so after the cultic "legend" of Buddy Holly grew following his sudden deat Find yourself a good quality Walkman, a nicely remastered copy of a Buddy Holly hits CD, and a pair of headphones with better-than-average treble response and sonic transparency and listen to Buddy's May 1957 recording of Not Fade Away and tell me it's not the most perfect and beautiful thing in all of rock and roll. That recording (the b-side of the hit "Oh Boy") was never a hit in its own right in its time; only becoming so after the cultic "legend" of Buddy Holly grew following his sudden death at age 22 on a wintry evening in the middle of nowhere Iowa in February 1959. But, listening to this record, with its sparse, unpolished, raw quality, its incessant beat, its overall improvised air -- the cracking of Holly's voice on the line "Your love for me has got to be real" and his recovery from it with a screeching upward swoosh on the word "real" -- says rock 'n' roll better than anything else in existence. Holly, a nice Christian boy from Lubbock, Texas, was already telegraphing/channeling punk a quarter century ahead of the game. It also tells me more about Holly than this entire biography gamely but unsuccessfully tries to. But it's not for lack of trying, and I'm giving John Goldrosen and coauthor John Beecher an A+ for effort. Before this book, Goldrosen was appalled to find so little (or so much that was just plain wrong) written about a singer-songwriter whose influence on music was so great. And equally appalled by the terribly produced and misguided anthologies of his music pressed on records for decades after his death. And, I might add, equally appalled by the virtual lack of recognition for Holly by his own hometown of Lubbock until the 1980s and by the highly inaccurate 1978 movie about his life. Goldrosen's book does what a good fan-written book does, for good or for ill, and comes off a little dull in the doing. The final pages are so well written and moving, though, that one wishes Goldrosen had infused that same passion into the preceding 200 or so pages. This is, by consensus, the best Buddy Holly bio out there, and Goldrosen does a yeoman's job getting at the known facts of the artist's life, digging into first-hand sources, oral and written--exploding mythology and apocrypha and avoiding baseless speculation. To his credit, he speculates only as far as the facts take him. To his detriment, he speculates only as far as the facts take him. When it comes to biographies, this tension between a Joe-Friday "just the facts" approach (which I admire) and a poetic license approach that can spice up the narrative (which I, as a yearner and reader crave) is a tension that I debate within myself. I think Goldrosen's book is the basis for a better book, one that is yet to done by some more talented writer somewhere. I had dog-eared quite a few pages in this, wanting to comment on this or that aspect of Holly's short meteoric career, but am, frankly too lazy and maybe a little too sad to reengage the material. That sadness is reflected in Goldrosen's excellent account of the last hours of Holly's life, a strange and disturbing set of weird and ironic turns of fate that left three of the biggest stars of '50s rock (Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. "Big Bopper" Richardson) strewn lifelessly among plane wreckage on a snowy Iowa cornfield, and which allowed several people who were supposed to have been on that plane, fortuitously, to live. Sideman Waylon Jennings, who went on to later become a huge country success, was supposed to be on the plane but gave up his seat to the Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens won a coin-toss to take the seat reserved for a member of Holly's band, the Crickets. A life snuffed on the whim of a coin toss... Amid the by-the-book recitation of chronological facts, and Goldrosen's frequent attitude of apology for failing to capture the elusive nature of his subject, there are moments of illumination. One is a photo on page 108 of Holly and Jennings, obviously taken in a photo booth, in which Holly is sporting a sense of glee, his head jutting forward in a big, mischievous smile, and a cigarette dangled self consciously between his fingers. The photo would not look out of place today on some teenager's Facebook page, and it reminds us that for all the genius and gravitas ascribed to Holly, he was still just a kid, a kid who liked motorcycles and fast cars and girls, a kid from a more innocent time in rock when drugs and sex were almost unheard of, and whatever arrogance might be had from being a rock star came not from the privileges of being the feted prima donna but which stemmed from a very American and Texan nurtured work ethic. When Holly showed impatience or distance or temper, it is suggested, his was an arrogance of wanting things done right, and not tolerating those who settled for less. That's probably what I took away most from this story about Holly, an introverted, religiously centered, well-behaved geeky kid who essentially changed an art form because inside that conventional sensibility an ember of rebellious fire burned hot and bright and burst out to his and the world's everlasting benefit.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    It was slow going. I wish it told a little more about Buddy's personality, but I suspect he was a bit of an enigma. I also wish it had included more interviews. A good chunk of the book discussess the songs (how they were produced and what the lyrics were). I'd rather hear more about why Holly wrote them, but I suspect that most of that information is lost or was never known. I wish Buddy had written an autobiography before he had died. His music is so amazing, even now. It was slow going. I wish it told a little more about Buddy's personality, but I suspect he was a bit of an enigma. I also wish it had included more interviews. A good chunk of the book discussess the songs (how they were produced and what the lyrics were). I'd rather hear more about why Holly wrote them, but I suspect that most of that information is lost or was never known. I wish Buddy had written an autobiography before he had died. His music is so amazing, even now.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Chris Walker

    I wasn't born until 11 years after Buddy's tragic death, but I've recently become addicted to his music and the sound that only he and the Crickets could produce. I've been reading everything about the man that I can get my hands on. This book is very informative and I would have rated it a five if the author hadn't drug the experience down with his opinions, albeit positive, about each and every piece of Holly music. The books starts at his birthplace and expectedly follows his life through his I wasn't born until 11 years after Buddy's tragic death, but I've recently become addicted to his music and the sound that only he and the Crickets could produce. I've been reading everything about the man that I can get my hands on. This book is very informative and I would have rated it a five if the author hadn't drug the experience down with his opinions, albeit positive, about each and every piece of Holly music. The books starts at his birthplace and expectedly follows his life through his career until his untimely death. I would have liked to have been given more information about what happened post-February 2, 1959 but overall it was a great read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Cocaine

    You should never forget Elvis but just for the duration of this book put the King of Rock and Roll to the back of your mind. This book , much like the subject matter it speaks of, hits all the right notes.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Learned a lot about my new favorite original rock 'n roller! The lesson to learn from Buddy is to get out there and show the world your genius while you have the chance. Learned a lot about my new favorite original rock 'n roller! The lesson to learn from Buddy is to get out there and show the world your genius while you have the chance.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tammy

    Very comprehensive. Details of the history of recordings was surprisingly interesting.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Stacey Traister

    The book on Buddy Holly

  8. 4 out of 5

    Henry Sturcke

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kaci

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sophia White

  11. 5 out of 5

    Roni Hendricks

  12. 4 out of 5

    Vivian Fulford

  13. 5 out of 5

    Terence Towles-Canote

  14. 4 out of 5

    Russell

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

  16. 4 out of 5

    Paul

  17. 5 out of 5

    Billy Randord

  18. 5 out of 5

    Richard

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kerry Henderson

  20. 4 out of 5

    Emma

  21. 4 out of 5

    Erica

  22. 4 out of 5

    Andi Grenier

  23. 4 out of 5

    Owen Duffy

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kelli Douglas

  25. 4 out of 5

    Paul

  26. 4 out of 5

    Leo

  27. 4 out of 5

    Peggy-Sue Holly

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

  29. 5 out of 5

    David Leikam

  30. 4 out of 5

    TrumanCoyote

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