Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Jerry Allison, who played to screaming crowds as a teenager as a member of the seminal 1950s rock band Buddy Holly and the Crickets and co-wrote some of their biggest hits, died Monday at age 82.
Allison’s writing contributions included co-penning “That’ll Be the Day” and “Peggy Sue.”
Allison’s death was announced on the official Buddy Holly Facebook page. “Our sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Jerry ‘JI’ Allison, drummer in the Crickets, one of Buddy’s very closest friends, and the inspiration to drummers for decades since, who passed away today at the age of 82,” the notice read.
“JI was a musician ahead of his time, and undoubtedly his energy, ideas and exceptional skill contributed to both the Crickets and rock ‘n’ roll itself becoming such a success. Buddy is often heralded as the original singer-songwriter, but JI, too, wrote and inspired so many of the songs that would go on to be eternal classics. There’s more to be said and posted here in the coming days. For today, we think about his family and friends and wish JI to rest in peace.”
“That’ll Be the Day” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998 and placed in the U.S. government’s National Recording Registry in 2005. It was a hit for Linda Ronstadt, as well, in the 1970s. It was said to be inspired by hearing John Wayne utter the title phrase in the film “The Searchers.” Holly and Allison first recorded it in 1956 with their seminal group Buddy Holly and the Three Tunes, but their charting version was cut the following year.
Remarkably, considering its classic status, “That’ll Be the Day” just missed the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 11. Coincidentally, Ronstadt’s remake, fairly iconic in its own right, also got stopped at No. 11 in 1976.
“Peggy Sue” made it further, charting at No. 3 later in 1957. The song was originally written as “Cindy Lou” but got renamed “Peggy Sue” in honor of Allison’s then estranged girlfriend and later wife, Peggy Sue Gerron. The song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.
Allison also had a minor solo hit, “Real Wild Child,” which he released under the name Ivan, with Holly backing him on guitar. The tune peaked at No. 68 on the Hot 100 in 1958. He had heard it sung by one of its co-writers, Australia’s Johnny O’Keefe, on a visit overseas and made the first recording of the tune. It came to be a rock standard, covered in later decades by Iggy Pop and others.
Holly went solo in 1958 and died in a plane crash the following year. The Crickets continued to perform together over the years with different frontmen, working with the singer-songwriter later to be known as Tonio K. in the mid-’70s. They served as backing band for country star Waylon Jennings in the late ’70s.
The Crickets were inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, as the result of a committee determining that the band should have been inducted along with Holly when he was put in in 1986.
More to come…
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