“It’s not that I want to be rich. I just want the world to remember the name Buddy Holly.” Buddy was waiting for stardom as a teenager, hungry for the world of music and ready to take on the challenges his fresh music would throw his way.
With a career spanning not quite 2 years, Buddy made quite the impression on his peers and his music shaped the future of bands like The Rolling Stones and The Beatles. Buddy carried a certain swagger with his name, his famous thick-rimmed glasses that can be seen on today’s youth, his turn-up Levis – worn high on the waist – and Elvis like dance moves. On May 27th 1957, Buddy released That’ll be the Day and boy did the world listen. It was the track that redefined exactly what music could be. An enchanting mix of rock riffs, country chords and blues beats. A musical cocktail of pure genius!
After the shock death of Buddy in February 1959 in a freak plane crash, the music of Buddy and his Crickets lived on. In fact I was quite surprised at what a musical bookmark he has made; tracks like Johnny B Goode, Heartbeat, Peggy Sue and That’ll Be The Day were all performed by Buddy and his Crickets.
The story was set and the stage was ready. The Theatre Royal kicked off the roof with the opener – Rose of Texas with Jason Blackwater on lead as The Big Bopper….Hello Baaaaaabbbbbbeyyy! A familiar sense of happiness washed over me as the costumes, expressions of the cast and live music rang in my ears. This was gonna be good!
The cast were absolutely, completely awe-inspiring. One minute playing a saxophone, the next singing a belter, the next dancing a 1950s jive. The music played on stage was live. It really felt as though Buddy had been reborn and we were all taken back in time to an old skool auditorium to witness the talent that Buddy had. Roger Rowley was everything I wanted Buddy to be, slightly awkward as he began his career but growing into a confident artist that had a certain sex appeal about him, no wonder his wife Maria agreed to marry him within hours!
The scene of the night was the set at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem. The pairing of Lydia Fraser and Miguel Angel singing Shout was faultless! It got us all pumped for a brilliantly entertaining performance from Buddy and The Crickets. I think it’s safe to say at this point I was struggling to pick just one star of the show but in this scene it was clear – Scott Gaining who plays Joe B Mauldin, The Crickets Bassist, had me laughing through the whole scene. He was incredibly entertaining, throwing his bass around with enthusiasm and transporting me back to yesterday – the passion for Rock and Roll was like no other. Every movement, every expression from Scott was perfectly in tune with his 1950s life in the limelight.
Other moments to note – the clever use of lighting and all American accents to highlight the success of Buddy’s That’ll Be The Day, Ritchie Valens risqué, hip thrusting performance of La Bamba and the continued attitude and comedy of Hipockets Duncan!
For a small stage a huge impression was made. With a handful of audience interaction and a cast of extremely talented performers, I would urge you all to head down and experience the magic that Buddy Holly brought to us all. We could all do with a little Rock & Roll!