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468 - Buddy Holly in 1963

 
 
Op 3 februari 1959 verongelukte popster Buddy Holly. Hij was nog maar 22 jaar. Het leek erop dat we daarna nog maar weinig van hem zouden horen. Het zou anders uitpakken. Na zijn dood bleek dat de jonge artiest heel wat liedjes had opgenomen, thuis en in de studio van Norman Petty (1927-1984) – eigen composities, maar ook uitvoeringen van andermans repertoire.
 
 
Nieuwe Holly platen in 1963
 
 
Op 26 januari 1963, vier jaar later, deed de Britse popkrant New Record Mirror verslag van de meest recente ontwikkelingen. De kop van het artikel luidde: ‘New Holly discs!’
   Redacteur Graeme Andrews: “Buddy Holly fans will be delighted to hear that, during coming months, Coral will be releasing a number of all-new singles – the first of which should be issued in the not too distant future. At present [Decca, Coral] have nine Holly tapes, acquired from Norman Petty”.
   De nieuwe, niet eerder gehoorde tapes, kwamen als een duveltje uit een doosje. Tony Hall, werkzaam bij Decca in Londen, onthulde de titels: ‘Bo Diddley’, ‘Slippin’ ’n’ Slidin’’, ‘Brown Eyed Handsome Man’, ‘Because I Love You’, ‘It’s not my fault’, ‘I’m gonna set my foot down’ en ‘Rock-a-bye rock’.
   Hall: “This should keep a lot of people happy for a long time”.
   Dat gold niet alleen voor de fans, maar ook voor de employees van het bedrijf. De artiest was een van de best verkopende artiesten van Decca. 
 
 
468 1 new
 
 
In het artikel was te lezen dat de moeder van Buddy Holly ook nog tapes gevonden had, zowel bij haar thuis als bij vrienden van de artiest. “These tapes, only some of which are likely to be suitable for release, include Buddy’s demonstrations of a number of his compositions such as ‘Love’s made a fool of you’, which the Crickets turned into a hit after his death”.
 
Over de kwaliteit van de ‘nieuwe’ nummers zou niemand zich zorgen hoeven te maken. Buddy had ze voor zichzelf in de Petty-studio vastgelegd. De studiobaas in Clovis (New Mexico) had de demo’s bovendien laten versterken door de Fireballs (volgens hem ‘vrienden van Buddy’). Die groep had zich volgens de popjournalist al veelvuldig bewezen – recentelijk opnieuw met singles als ‘Footpatter’ en ‘Rik-a-tik’.
   Mooier kon het niet. “They are ideal for providing the sound that Buddy’s millions of fans have shown no signs of growing tired of. Altogether the future is pretty bright as far as new songs from Buddy are concerned and it looks as though one of the most exciting chapters of the Buddy Holly Story is still to come”.
 
 
468 2 Buddy HollyBuddy Holly
 
 
Crickets
 
 
Menigeen probeerde al enkele jaren mee te profiteren van de enorme populariteit van Holly. Zijn voormalige begeleiders bijvoorbeeld, de Crickets. En hun Britse tegenhangers, de nog niet zo bekende Beatles, die niet nalieten van zich te laten horen.  
   “Dear Crickets”, schreven ze op 24 januari 1963 vanuit Liverpool, “when we were rehearsing for a T.V. Show [voor ‘Please Please Me’] the other day, we met someone who had known you during your recent trip to England, and they told us how you had complimented us. We also heard from E.M.I. in London that you had a copy of our record [‘Love me do’]. Well, we’d just like to say that we take this as a great compliment and appreciate it very much. Paul McCartney, Ringo, George, John Lennon”.
   In 1962 wisten de Crickets de top tien van Engeland te bereiken met ‘Don’t Ever Change’.
 
 
In het voorjaar van 1963 waren de Crickets opnieuw in Engeland. Drummer Jerry Allison, in 1958 getrouwd met Peggy Sue verklaarde bij die gelegenheid: “The boys are genuinely delighted at the way British fans have pushed us back up there in the charts. Though we guess our name is pretty established on the pop scene, fact is nobody can say they’re not anxious to have a hit record. Even Nat ‘King’ Cole, who has just celebrated his 25th anniversary in the vocal world, says he needs hits”.
  De hitsingles van de nieuwe Crickets waren helemaal in Buddy Holly-stijl. ‘My Little Girl’ bijvoorbeeld leek behoorlijk op ‘Peggy Sue’…
 
 
468 3 Crickets

 
De aanpak van de Crickets was niet uitzonderlijk. Heel wat artiesten hielden de ‘sound’ van de omgekomen zanger in leven. Dat leverde hun aardig wat succes op, maar soms ook vervloekingen van de echte Buddy Holly fans. Vooral Bobby Vee (1943-2016) kreeg met dat fenomeen te maken. Zijn grootste hits waren ‘Take Good Care Of My Baby’, ‘Rubber Ball’, ‘Run To Him’ en ‘The Night Has A Thousand Eyes’.
 
 
Nieuwe Buddy Holly hit: ‘Bo Diddley’
 
 
De marketingactie van de Engelse platenmaatschappij Decca lukte. Na korte tijd was de vier jaar eerder overleden artiest weer eens terug te vinden in de top 10 van de Britse hitlijsten. Dat was met de bewerkte demo-opname van ‘Bo Diddley’, de song die door Bo Diddley (Ellas McDaniel) bekend gemaakt was en die Buddy al eens eerder verwerkt had in ‘Not Fade Away’.
  In New Musical Express kwam Tony Hall (1928-2019) opnieuw aan het woord. Aan Ian Dove vertelde hij dat hij lakplaten had laten maken van de ‘nieuwe’ opnamen. Tony had ze mee naar huis genomen en gedurende het weekend voortdurend afgespeeld. “I made a 12 inch acetate of all the titles and took it home. I lived with it for a weekend”.
 
Hall kon opgelucht adem halen. Het leek in 1963 immers dat het idool uit de populariteit aan het verdwijnen was. Ian Dove schreef het zo: “No name on the pop scene today arouses more mystique and comment. Latest to reach me comes from Holly admirer Graham W. Breeze, who puts the loaded question: Was Buddy Holly nearly a fading star?”
  Dat was volgens Dove al het geval vóór het vliegtuigongeluk in Iowa op 3 februari 1959. “I’m not saying that Buddy would have been forgotten today but for his untimely death but he was losing some popularity just before that fatal plane crash”.
 
 
Twijfel bij de fans
 
 
Anno 1963 werd veel gediscussieerd over Buddy Holly, zowel binnen de muziekindustrie als door de fans. Op 7 juli publiceerde popkrant New Record Mirror enkele ingezonden brieven.
  Jim Costello had grote twijfels of je op de nieuwe Holly-singles wel de stem van de echte artiest hoorde. “Isn’t it about time someone found out if it really is Buddy singing, or just another copyist. If Tommy Roe, Mike Berry, Earl Sinks and many more can sound like Buddy, surely it is possible for these ‘Buddy Holly’ recordings of late to be by an imposter”.
  Volgens Costello was de kwaliteit van de nieuwste 45-toeren platen te goed – dat was verdacht. “The last two releases, ‘Bo Diddley’ and ‘Brown Eyed Handsome Man’ do not sound to me as if they were made pre-1959. We are told that the backing has been added, but the actual voice is so clear that it seems impossible to get the sound on an ordinary tape recorder, and after the tape has lain around for over four years”.
  De fan van Buddy Holly vertrouwde het niet. “Now comes the news that another Holly tape has been found and, of course, these will be released and sell like hot cakes, but would someone please explain how a tape that has been laying around for four years has only just been found.
    Don’t get me wrong. I’m a Buddy Holly fan, and I saw him when he came over, but are today’s record buying fans sure it is their idol, or are we all being taken for one of the biggest rides in modern record history”.
    Werd het publiek beetgenomen, vroeg hij zich af.
 
Petter Knutzen, uit Noorwegen, had eveneens een brief gestuurd naar de popkrant. Ook hij twijfelde eraan of het werkelijk de stem van Buddy Holly was, die je hoorde op het ‘nieuwe’ materiaal. “In the last few months there has been much written about Holly and it has been written that Norman Petty back in the U.S. has plenty of recording material of Buddy’s – enough to have records released for many years to come”.
    Ook de Noorse Holly-fan vroeg zich af of men in Amerika jarenlang op zoek was geweest naar iemand die de stem van de artiest onherkenbaar kon nabootsen. “With some technical arrangements it was completely impossible to hear the difference. I find it strange that Mr. Petty has such a great number of unreleased tapes”.
    Als het waar was wat verkondigd werd, dan had Buddy Holly tijdens zijn korte bestaan weinig anders gedaan dan muziek opnemen. “Seems like Buddy has gone around and recorded whenever he had a spare minute. Tapes are found by his mother, by Petty or just by some dee-jays!”
    Hij vertrouwde het niet. “Although I’m a keen Holly fan, I for one find this very strange”.
 
 
468 4 hoax

 
Norman Petty reageert
 
 
Wat in Engeland gebeurde was niet oninteressant voor de belanghebbenden in Amerika. Producer, studio-eigenaar, muzikant, componist, manager en muziekuitgever Norman Petty volgde op de voet wat er in de Britse popkranten geschreven werd. De inkt was nog nauwelijks droog of er verscheen een brief op de burelen van New Record Mirror in Londen. Op 13 juli konden de lezers van de popkrant hem lezen.
    Petty haakte in op de twee brieven. “It is most surprising to think how difficult it is for some people to accept the truth of any situation. Make something complicated – tell small  stories – then it is easy to sell. But it is very difficult indeed to think that some of your readers still doubt the authenticity of the voice of Buddy Holly”.
 
Norman moest toegeven dat er nogal wat artiesten waren die de stem en stijl van Holly probeerden te imiteren. “True, there have been many who have tried to sound like Buddy”.
    Dat was evenwel niet genoeg. Je kon wel als Buddy Holly klinken. Dat was niet genoeg. Het ging om het gevoel. “Sound alone is not enough. The term ‘feel’ must be brought forward. That is exactly what could not be copied – since Buddy Holly did have his own feel and his true record friends can spot the copies and the ‘real’ thing”.
 
Petty besefte dat de lezers van New Record Mirror er niet volledig van op de hoogte waren hoe de nieuwe platen tot stand gekomen waren. Tijd om het eens goed uit te leggen. “Your readers have not been fully informed concerning the background of ‘all of those tapes’ you are now hearing about. The tapes have not just been found as some trade papers would have you believe. They have been around all the time. We knew about them. So did the record companies”.
    Het had natuurlijk met rechten, met geld, te maken. “Legal difficulties, not necessarily the problems of yours truly, but of all concerned, prevent the public from knowing the full story behind the tapes. You can rest assured that a company with the reputation of Decca would not be a part of ‘a hoax’ at any cost. They could care less for the money involved at this point”.
 
 
468 5 Norman Petty Norman Petty
 
 
Achter de schermen was er kennelijk lange tijd onderhandeld. “Decca has known of these tapes for some time. The press has known of them. Now it seems a good time to try to sell more papers. Thus all of a sudden tapes are found. It makes this reader very angry to be blamed for vague stories about the tapes”.
    Het aantal bruikbare opnamen was volgens hem beperkt. “We do not hold but a very few usable tapes and these will not be released until they are up to the standards we know were possible with the ability of Buddy Holly”.
    Petty distantieerde zich van minderwaardig materiaal waar hij niet betrokken bij was geweest en dat volgens hem van inferieure kwaliteit was. “We did not arrange any of the release dates of ‘the flops’ or any other releases there. The very early tapes did not go through us, but were sent directly from Decca here to your country. You and your readers should rest assured that much has been written among all parties concerned with these tapes and all can be authenticated”.
    Er was blijkbaar heel wat te doen geweest met het op de markt brengen van het materiaal dat na de dood van Buddy nog op de planken lag.
    Petty hield de spanning er nog in. “Few remain – to be released only when completed”. Een van die nummers was ‘Wishing’. “Decca Records here and in England have had the recording of ‘Wishing’, by Buddy Holly, since the first of the year. It is a great record in my opinion, and you will be able to hear it when the great powers that be decide to release it”.
    Aan het einde van de brief liet Norman Petty nog eens weten dat hij meer was dan zakenman. “It was my rare pleasure to be the recording engineer, the musician, a co-writer of many songs, the manager, a friend associated with Buddy Holly”.
 
 
Ouders van Buddy Holly reageren
 
 
Twee weken later, op 27 juli 1963, drukte de New Record Mirror opnieuw een brief af – deze keer niet uit de muziekbusiness, maar van de familie van Buddy Holly – Ella Drake en Odell Holley, de ouders van de langzamerhand mythische artiest.
    In een inleidend stukje kon je lezen. “Reader Jim Costello really started it all. He wrote to the New Record Mirror not long ago and questioned the authenticity of the voice of Buddy Holly on the recent ‘late-great’ releases. It stirred up the controversy – as does anything regarding this fantastic style settting song-star.
    And now, from America, comes a special feature penned by Buddy’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. L.O. Holley – from their home in Lubbock, Texas. In a personal note, they pay tribute to the NRM for ‘the wonderful support you have given to Buddy’s memory and to his material’. But they point out that ‘naturally, we do not consider you or your staff of reporters responsible for the opinions expressed by your readers. Realizing, however, that this particular rumour can be very damaging as well as cruel to all of the devoted fans, and also a false rumour, we feel compelled to reply”.
 
Onieuw bleek dat men in de VS op de hoogte was van wat zich in Engeland afspeelde. Nergens was Buddy populairder geworden dan in het Verenigd Koninkrijk. 
     “We’ve just finished reading that article by Jim Costello”, aldus vader en moeder Holley. “We receive and enjoy reading several of the trade magazines from Britain and really do appreciate the many nice articles written about Buddy from time to time”.
    Niet alles had hun instemming. “We do read some things which are not true. But we usually just overlook them as they are small mistakes and we also realise that it is probably the result of not having enough information in the first place, which fact we are truly sorry about. Any regular reader of the trade magazines is aware of the fact that some of the statements made by them are not entirely true”.
    Er was bijvoorbeeld geen sprake van dat er nieuwe tapes gevonden waren. “You are apparently quoting from them when you say that some tapes of Buddy have just been found. Actually, none of the tapes by Buddy have jut been found, but have been in our possession since a few weeks after his death”.
 
 
468 6 Buddy met ouders

 
Geen bedrog
 
 
De talloze fans van Buddy Holly mochten natuurlijk niet bedrogen worden. “As to the rumour of someone else singing instead of Buddy on the new releases, this is too serious to remain uncorrected. First of all, we could not be that unfair to his many loyal fans; neither to ourselves; and most especially to Buddy’s memory”.
    De redactie van de popkrant had misschien zijn oor te veel te luister gelegd bij de Britse platenmaatschappij. “Perhaps, when you made this statement, you had in mind the record company and were not aware of the true circumstances, regarding the releases.
    Decca could really not afford to do anything like this and, besides this, our contracts will not allow them to release anything that we do not agree to and certainly we would not agree or be a party to anything so foul and unfair as this.
    So, when you stop to realise these things just remember that we are just ordinary folk, who lost someone very dear to us [zoon Buddy] and for some time because of our loss, we did not even care if there were more songs – and only when we came to see and know the grief and loss felt by all of his fans and how much they wanted to keep him alive in their hearts also. It was then that we became concerned and wanted to share with his fans what we had left of Buddy.
 
 
‘Hulp’ van Norman Petty
 
 
Vader en moeder Holley hadden hun lot blijkbaar in handen van Norman Petty gelegd. “As we’ve said before, we have had this material since a short time after his death and we turned it over to Norman Petty, a very capable and trustworthy recording man, who recorded most of Buddy’s work, was his manager and a good friend of ours”.
    Iedereen mocht weten dat de artiest zelf over goede opnameapparatuur beschikte en daarvan gebruik maakte. Dat had hij bijvoorbeeld gedaan toen hij na zijn huwelijk met Maria Elena een appartement in New York bewoonde. “Buddy had some very good recording equipment of his own and very often in his spare time he would sit around singing and picking his guitar, therefore he had quite a few songs on tape – not knowing of course that they would ever be used for releases.
    At the time of his death, Buddy’s voice was developing a deeper, richer quality and seemed to be coming into his own, so to speak. He had put on tape just two weeks before the tragedy, ten songs which were better than anything he had done previously”.
 
De ouders van de artiest hadden aan Norman Petty toestemming gegeven om de demo’s te laten bewerken door de Fireballs. “In fact, we have been asked by some to release these just as they are – which we have considered doing. These are of excellent quality and if they were heard by his fans I think there would be no more doubt as to who is singing them. These, of course, you will be hearing on future releases.
    Naturally, Norman Petty will have the job of dubbing in the Fireballs, a group whom he manages. Actually, most of them, along with the rest of the material has already been mastered and ready for issue as Decca sees fit”.
 
 
468 7 Fireballs

 
Voor wie het nog niet begreep, er moest eerst onderhandeld worden alvorens de ‘nieuwe’ nummers van de artiest uit Lubbock op de markt konden komen. “As to the long delay in getting this out to the fans and public, that is another thing. And it is something unavoidable by us. There were contracts to be signed, a litigation process to wait upon as well as some infringement difficulty out of Nashville, Tennessee, where Buddy did some early recordings.
    All of this was causing us trouble and delay. During this time, we were receiving a lot of mail from fans from everywhere and this made us more determined than ever to get his songs to them.
    Well, we finally got things going and have been happily rewarded in seeing his memory live on in the hearts of his fans”.
 
 
Boodschap aan de trouwe fans
 
 
Ook de ouders beseften hoe belangrijk het was om een goede relatie te houden met de trouwe aanhangers van hun zoon. Zij (en weduwe Maria Elena) hadden er alle belang bij dat Buddy niet vergeten zou worden.
    “In closing, we would like to say we are happy to know that reader Jim Costello is a fan of Buddy and we would like to pass the word along to all the fans that we appreciate them very much and feel that they are responsible for his continued popularity and the ‘still with us’ feeling which seems to be prevalent in all of Britain and even in the States again now.
    Please tell them that when they are listening to Buddy’s songs they may rest assured that they are really hearing Buddy and not another. We could not and would not betray the trust and love they have shown to his memory and to us also”.
 
 
Nieuwe successen
 
 
468 8 Bobby Vee

 
In Engeland bleef Buddy Holly als artiest scoren, zo bleek althans uit de hitlijsten. Op 5 september 1963 verscheen de single ‘Wishing’ in de Britse charts en steeg door naar een tiende plaats. Opvolgers ‘What To do’, ‘You’ve Got Love’ en ‘Love’s Made A Fool Of You’ werden eveneens bestsellers.
 
Buddy Holly bleef andere artiesten inspireren. Bobby Vee noemde ik al. In 1962 nam hij het album ‘Bobby Vee Meets The Crickets’ op. Een jaar later al, in 1963, werd zijn album ‘I Remember Buddy Holly’ op de markt gebracht. 
 
 
468 9 Thatll be the day

 
De invloed van Buddy Holly liet zich gelden door middel van de extreem populaire Beatles. In een tv-documentaire (1987) speelde Paul McCartney diens song ‘That’ll be the day’. Hij liet er een lakplaat (demo) van zien en verklaarde: “That was the first record we made as the Beatles – in a little studio in Liverpool”. De Beatle kon zich nog goed herinneren hoe de muziek van de artiest opviel als hij naar de radio luisterde. “A very exciting record”. Je wist volgens hem niet of de artiest zwart of blank was. “It didn’t really matter”.
    De Beatles staken hun bewondering voor Holly niet onder stoelen of banken. Dat gold ook voor de Stones, die in de zomer van 1963 voor het eerst in de Britse hitlijsten verschenen met ‘Come On’, een song van Chuck Berry. Hetzelfde jaar nog was dat eveneens het geval met ‘I wanna be your man’, geschreven door Lennon & McCartney.
    De echte doorbraak vond plaats in het vroege voorjaar van 1964, met ‘Not Fade Away’, een liedje uit de koker van Buddy Holly. Daarmee wisten de Britse popmuzikanten voor het eerst aan de top te komen, om precies te zijn: een derde plaats in de New Musical Express.
 
Dat er steeds ‘nieuwe’ opnamen van Buddy Holly in Engeland bleven verschijnen, zoals in 1963, heeft er mijns inziens in hoge mate toe bijgedragen dat de artiest uit Lubbock vooral na zijn dood populairder dan ooit werd.
 
 
Harry Knipschild
6 augustus 2022
 
Clips
 
 
Literatuur
 
Graeme Andrews, ‘New Holly discs!’, New Record Mirror, 26 januari 1963
‘The Crickets like you’, Beat Instrumental, mei 1963
Ian Dove, ‘Buddy Holly scores fourth ‘Bo’ hit’, New Musical Express, 14 juni 1963
‘Holly – is it a hoax?’, New Record Mirror, 6 juli 1963
‘Norman Petty writes’, New Record Mirror, 13 juli 1963
‘Buddy – his parents write’, New Record Mirror, 27 juli 1963
    
    
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