Sunday, June 22, 2008

What If . . . ?

Buddy Holly – True Love Ways

Buddy Holly – Rave On

(buy album)

Buddy Holly, from Lubbock, Texas, was only 22 years old when he died. I've always wondered what kind of music he would have made if he had lived past 1959. My guess is that he would have become an even bigger star and would have played a hugely influential role in the development of rock and/or country music.

As a gifted and already-accomplished songwriter, driven to succeed, Buddy Holly seemed destined to grow artistically and expand musical boundaries.

Your thoughts about what might have been?

Buddy picking with Lubbock pal Waylon Jennings

Maria & Buddy dining with Phil Everly


Here's one from the "Apartment Tapes" (mentioned in the comments):

Buddy Holly – Peggy Sue Got Married


Mario B said...

Managers of rock artists of the 1950's didn't believe it was an important kind of music, or it was music only for kids. As their artists grow older, managers want them to become more "musical adults". That's what Presley will do in 1960, and that's what Buddy Holly was doing with his last session (The violins of It Doesn't Matter Anymore). Buddy Holly will have put on the market "adult records" in the early 1960's, perhaps do "Peggy Sue Do The Twist" and have big, big troubles when the Beatles, the Stones, the Kinks, Dylan hit the charts.

LD said...

If he followed his buddy, Waylon, into country music he probably would've had the easiest go of it. Can't honestly see him competing with the Brits on their terms, but I can see him going the country route to keep the career afloat. He was a Texas boy, too, so who knows. The idea of him being a Willie Nelson-esque counterculture figure isn't totally far-fetched.

Paul said...

LD, that's kind of what I see, and it seems the most likely. If you listen to Willie Nelson's music from the 1960's, it really isn't all that far from what Buddy Holly was doing. And there is no denying the fact that Holly was incredibly talented. I think there's a good chance he would have ended up as an outlaw country rocker.

Mario, I think Buddy Holly might have had the vision to break the mold, so to speak, much in the same way that the Beatles did later. We'll never know.

Anonymous said...

I've always thought that of all the rock 'n roll deaths, Buddy Holly's was the most tragic because he was so young and so talented, and because it wasn't the result of any self-destructive behavior on his part. Given that the Beatles and Stones both covered Buddy Holly songs, I'm not so sure he would have failed to adapt to the changing times -- he'd still have been in his 20s, after all.


Anonymous said...

Many have hypothesized that his recordings of "True Love Ways" and "It Doesn't Matter Anymore" were evidence of Holly drifting toward pop, but if you ever get the chance to listen to "The Apartment Tapes" - his last home recordings made just before his death - clearly show his feet were planted firmly in rock n' roll. He might have eventually drifted back to country - allah Ricky Nelson - but I think he was too edgy, too experimental and too forward thinking just to go back to standard country and western.

Paul said...

Anon @ 10:02 - I agree. So I added one from the Apartment Tapes to the post as an update. Thanks!

Shane said...

Whichever route he went, it would have had a monumental effect. It is well known that the fab four idolized the likes of Holly, Perkins and Elvis. So any different direction he would take would have surely influenced them, thus influencing nearly every band to come after.

The Beatles - Crying, Waiting, Hoping.

I like to think that while the beatles were somewhat disappointed with their meeting with Elvis, they would not have been had they met Holly.

Paul said...

Great point Shane! And well said. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I vote the Waylon route, though I'm not sure how "Outlaw" he could be with those glasses!

Anonymous said...

He would have a few more hits, then drop into production when his style went out of vogue with the hippies. He'd probably try his hand at acting, but wouldn't get far. He'd bad-mouth some of the newer acts and would become increasingly isolated and bitter. Then the call would come, and he would be sucked into a 50's rock'n'roll revival with other early stars ("It'll be great" sez slimy manager over the phone while snorting snowdrifts off secretary/girlfriend's mid-riff). It would degenerate into pitched fits, ego, hair grease and off-tune vocals, breaking up just after the Kansas City show. From there, silence for a few years. But public forgiveness finally arrives in the form of public forgetfulness of former misdeeds. And the lure of nostalgia beckons yet again, this time with another star tour, this time with a massive tour, this time including the Apollo theatre, this time imbibing some alcohol and that dang reefer, this time sharing some old-boy commentary, this time not impressing his audience, this time getting a police-and-security-secured exit, this time with tear gas. Silence again for a few years. Then the album, which he is close to finishing but dies during, which is then finished by a nephew, and put out. It becomes immediately clear which parts he did and which his nephew did, and his memory is sullied on CNN.

Duncanmusic said...

I remember reading somewhere [wish I could remember WHERE]that he was planning 1) a collaboration with Ray Charles and 2) a Spanish language LP (with nods to his wife)...either of which certainly would have been ground breaking.

I've always thought that as mentioned in earlier comments his general trend would have put him right in tune with waht the Beatles & Stones did. In many ways, maybe he would have led the charge better than Elvis did (poorly until the late 60s Memphis sessions)in America and probably would have been a strong international musical figure. One wonders if the Beatles & Stones would have dared to raise their heads if Holly had lived.

I liked the original Eddie & The Cruisers book (not the movie) for its suggestion of his collaborations with R&B artists.

In many ways, it's like wondering what would Hendrix have done...I always thought HE would have collaborated with Bob Marley (can't you see him doing reggae?, Dylan (a natural combo to be sure)and actually finally met with Miles Davis, too.

Paul said...

Hey Duncan,

Great comment! Thanks for adding to the discussion. You raise some very interesting questions.