Holly Days #3

“Peggy Sue” is instantly recognizable as a Buddy Holly song and currently there are at least 91 versions. There are many songs that have had great covers recorded, this it not one of them. There is a somewhat exploitive cover version, I think anyway, with a bit of an offensive drum mix billed as Bobby Vee Meets The Crickets from 1962. I have a lot of respect for Lou Reed but he did an awful version for the Holly Tribute album. A much more palatable tribute comes from John Lennon in 1975.

If you are a fan of Holly then you may know there was some debate about the origins of the song. There is little doubt the song was initially written by Buddy and the title was Cindy Lou, named after Buddy’s niece. I read in the Gary James interview that Jerry Allison recalls there was a “Cindy” song out at that time so Buddy changed it to “Peggy Sue” the name of Jerry’s old girlfriend and soon to be ex-wife. Allison said they came up with the rest of the song while driving around in Buddys car.

I have also seen accounts that it was Peggy Sue all along or that Allison had pressured Buddy to change the name to impress Peggy Sue Gerron as a favour to Jerry. I also read and I’ve heard Allison say that Norman Petty, perhaps kiddingly threaten Jerry they would change it back to Cindy Lou if he didn’t nail his snare drum piece on the next take as he was tasked with some tricky paradiddies (complex drum rudiments). Apparently and also with some debate, the credits on the record went to Jerry Allison and Norman Petty with Buddy Holly added at the last minute, another tale there as well. Whatever the story, it’s one great song, it reached #3 on Billboard, #4 in Canada and #6 in the UK.

Live on the Ed Sullivan show December 1, 1957.
An impressive performance by Zachary Stevenson with his tribute to Buddy Holly.
The sequel song was “Peggy Sue Got Married”, which she did to Jerry Allison. It only charted in the UK at #13 on the duel release with “Crying, Waiting Hoping”.

Thanks for reading!

10 thoughts on “Holly Days #3

    • Hey John, it’s my understanding that there were several ‘replacements’ for Buddy. They were actually reformed before Buddy’s death in 1958 by Norman Petty. Earl Sink was the first and he sang lead on “I Fought the Law” and then Sonny Curtis took lead on some songs and then they did that album with Bobby Vee.


      • Trying to track this stuff is difficult, especially when you consider the performing musicians were often different than the ones in studio. Of course we are the few that worry about this kind of stuff!


      • One of the things I miss is liner notes that identify the musicians and what they’re playing. I would listen to an album and read and re-read the liner notes when I was younger. Wish there was a database of them somewhere…

        Liked by 1 person

  1. My son is 22 and he came to be when he was around 10 and said Dad… I love this John Lennon song Peggy Sue. I told him about it and he likes both now but favors the John version. I love the movement of Holly’s guitar in this.
    I think that Buddy Holly started the power pop genre although he is never credited.

    Liked by 1 person

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