Buddy Holly holds a special place in the hearts of music lovers all around the world. For someone who tragically died at the age of 22, he had over 40 hit songs. There was no telling what the future would have had in store with a musical genius like Holly, but that is one of the reasons that tragic plane crash that took Holly, The Big Bopper, and Richie Valens in called “The Day the Music Died.”
Many studios tried to get films about Holly made, but Holly’s widow Maria had so many regulations for a film that many studios gave up. She felt to keep in the essence of Buddy that the film should be a low budget film when the focus was on his story and music. She didn’t want Buddy’s voice to be used so whoever played the role had to be able to sing and all the music needed to be recorded live on the film soundtrack.
These requirements from Maria turned many studios away from the task until first-time director Steve Rash not only agreed with Maria’s wishes but wanted the same thing. The role went to Gary Busey, who at the time was a full-time musician and part-time actor. Busey was also a massive fan of Buddy Holly. The only problem was that the other members of Holly’s famous band The Crickets had sold their personal rights to other studios, so the names of Holly’s bandmates in The Buddy Holly Story are changed from the real ones.
All the performances in the movie are 100% real and recorded in one or two takes. It’s the realism that sells the movie. There are a few times the band messes up chords, at one stage Busey’s guitar cable gets wrapped around his leg and his plays around with the lyrics of one of the songs. It’s the imperfections that add to the film.
Other musicians of the time including Little Richard claim that the movie is the closest to being there with an authenticity that they can’t believe. Other reports said the movie was, so spot on that Maria had to leave the premiere because it was getting too emotional for her.
For a man and the music that inspired so many, including John Lennon and Paul McCartney who named their band The Beatles after The Crickets, it’s only fitting for a film to be this accurate and this beloved.