Lost Classics! – “The Buddy Holly Story”

At age 14 I was a huge Paul McCartney fan and would always here him talk about how he idolized a guy named Buddy Holly. I had no idea who Holly was or where he was from. Then in 1978, The Buddy Holly Story hit theaters with Gary Busey in the title role. I remember seeing Busey in the goofball cross-country comedy “The Gumball Rally” and thought I would give the movie a shot. 

The film (which I found out later was more fiction than fact and had angered both family and friends of Holly) blew me away. I saw it three times in a week and five times in all.  Busey was nominated for an Academy Award for his portrayal of Holly, but the best part was the music. Music I had never heard before.  Unlike other movies, the tunes were being played live by the actors. No lip-syncing. Busey on guitar, Charles Martin Smith on bass and Don Stroud on drums really brought songs like “Rock Around with Ollie Vee,” “That’ll Be the Day, “Rave On” and “It’s So Easy” to life. An excellent move by the director because lip-syncing to the original tracks would not have done the film justice.

Even though Holly’s final show in Clear Lake, IA before dying in a plane crash was a recreation of what the director “thought Holly would want to do” and not what he actually did, it still ranks for me as one my favorite cinematic scenes. Busey’s rendition of “True Love Ways” rivals the original and his take on “Not Fade Away” during the “Clear Lake Medley” of hits is still the best version of that song I’ve ever heard.

“The Buddy Holly Story,” while not exactly true all the way through, still brings to life one of the greatest figures in rock and roll and shows us how great Gary Busey was before he went crazy.

“Not Fade Away” – The Buddy Holly Story

“Rock Around with Ollie Vee/That’ll Be the Day” – The Buddy Holly Story

“Live at the Apollo” – The Buddy Holly Story

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