That'll Be The Day (1957) (1958)

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By: Buddy Holly (and the Crickets.)

Buddy Holly was born Charles Hardin Holley September 7, 1936, in Lubbock, Texas, and died at the age of 22 in a plane crash February 3, 1959, in Clear Lake, Iowa.

Buddy Holly was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986.

In 2004 Rolling Stone magazine ranked him at #13 on their list of the Greatest Rock And Roll Artists Of All Time.

On February 8, 1956, Holly signed a recording contract with Decca Records that mistakenly dropped the "e" from his last name (Holley). When "That'll Be The Day" was first recorded July 22, 1956 in Nashville, Tennessee, Decca producer Owen Bradley thought it was of poor quality. He insisted that Holly sing it above his normal range while playing it very slow.

When Holly and The Crickets (rhythm guitarist Niki Sullivan, bassist Larry Welborn and drummer Jerry Allison) re-recorded it February 25, 1957, in producer Norman Petty's Clovis, New Mexico, studios, a few changes were made: the song's key was lowered from D to A (to better suit Holly's guitar intro and solo, and vocal range), and backing vocals were added by Sullivan, June Clark, and Gary and Ramona Tollett.

When the new version of "That'll Be The Day" (credited to the Crickets and released on Brunswick Records) became a hit, Decca attempted to capitalize on it by releasing the earlier version.

In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked "That'll Be The Day" at #39 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Don McLean's 1972 song "American Pie", about the history of rock and roll music, talks about "the day the music died," referring to the plane crash that killed Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson. McLean based the phrase "This'll be the day that I die" on Holly's "That'll be the day when I die" lyric.

Chart position:
#1 (US), #1 (UK).

It was preceded at #1 in the US by "Diana" (Paul Anka) and succeeded by "Mary's Boy Child" (Harry Belafonte).

The Top Ten Songs:
September 23, 1957 (US Billboard Hot 100).
  1. "That'll Be The Day" (Buddy Holly and the Crickets)
  2. "Tammy" (Debbie Reynolds)
  3. "Diana" (Paul Anka)
  4. "Honeycomb" (Jimmie Rodgers)
  5. "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" (Jerry Lee Lewis)
  6. "Teddy Bear"/"Loving You" (Elvis Presley)
  7. "Mr. Lee" (Bobbettes)
  8. "Rainbow" (Russ Hamilton)
  9. "In The Middle Of An Island" (Tony Bennett)
  10. "Remember You're Mine"/"There's A Gold Mine In The Sky" (Pat Boone)

Written by: Buddy Holly, Jerry Allison, and producer Norman Petty.

Though Petty was not involved in writing the song, he was given a composing credit. Holly and Allison went to see the John Ford-directed Western film The Searchers, starring John Wayne, in June of 1956. In the film, Wayne frequently said, "That'll be the day!" The phrase stuck with Holly. Soon after, he and Allison wrote the song, marking the first time they wrote together.

Also by: The Quarrymen, who recorded it in 1958 at Percy Phillips' Kensington Custom Service, an electrical goods shop in Liverpool, England. It was their first recording, costing them about $2. They later became better known as the Beatles.

Paul McCartney owns the only known original copy, which ranked at #2 on a list of the 25 Most Valuable Recordings of All Time. It was finally released on the collection Anthology 1 in 1995.

Interestingly, Paul McCartney has owned the publishing rights to the Buddy Holly song catalogue since 1979, after purchasing them from Norman Petty.

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