Jerry Allison

Jerry Allison, the drummer for Buddy Holly and The Crickets, died at the age of 82.

The Crickets rose to prominence with hits like ‘That’ll Be the Day,’ ‘Oh, Boy!,’ and ‘Peggy Sue,’ which was inspired by Allison’s girlfriend.

 

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Jerry Allison, Buddy Holly and The Crickets drummer and co-writer of “Peggy Sue” and “That’ll Be the Day,” has died. He was 82.

A spokesperson for Gold Mountain Entertainment, which manages Holly’s former backing band The Crickets, confirmed the musician’s death on Wednesday. Allison was the last surviving original member. Further information about his death was not immediately available.

Allison was born in Hillsboro, Texas, on August 31, 1939. In Lubbock, Texas, he went to the same middle school as Holly. However, they did not become friends until high school, when they formed a band and began performing at roller rinks and The Cotton Club in Lubbock.

The Crickets were formed with bassist Larry Welborn, who was later replaced by Joe B. Mauldin, and rhythm guitarist Niki Sullivan. Their first hit was “That’ll Be the Day,” which was released in 1957. A line from John Wayne’s 1956 western “The Searchers” inspired the song.

 

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The Crickets’ subsequent hits included “Maybe Baby,” “Oh, Boy!” and “Think It Over.” Allison’s then-girlfriend and future wife Peggy Sue Gerron inspired the song “Peggy Sue.” It features Allison playing one of rock’s most famous drum parts and has been covered by a variety of artists, including John Lennon and the Beach Boys.

 

Holly followed up “Peggy Sue” with “Peggy Sue Got Married,” which became the title of a 1986 film directed by Francis Coppola and starring Kathleen Turner as a time traveller.

The Crickets’ sound was frequently reduced to rock ‘n’ roll fundamentals: guitars, bass, and drums backing Holly’s “hiccupping” vocals. They also enjoyed experimenting in the studio with multi-tracking and overdubbing, and their work influenced generations of musicians, including the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and other British Invasion rockers. One band, the Hollies, was named after Holly.

 

Allison’s inventive work is also evident on “Everyday,” where he foregoes the drums and keeps time by slapping his knees. Allison only uses cymbals on “Well… All Right.”

 

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As they rose to fame, the band remained in Texas, while Holly relocated to New York in 1958. Holly was killed in a plane crash in February 1959, at the age of 22, along with fellow musicians Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson, also known as the Big Bopper. Don McLean’s 1972 hit “American Pie” was inspired by the tragic deaths.

 

The Crickets continued to perform after Holly’s death. For decades, they toured and recorded together, including the first version of “I Fought The Law,” a Sonny Curtis song that later became a hit for The Bobby Fuller Four. They supported the Everly Brothers and toured with Waylon Jennings before becoming well-known session musicians who worked with Bobby Vee, Eddie Cochran, and Johnny Burnette.

 

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The Crickets were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, while Holly was among the first inductees in 1986. Mauldin died in 2014, and Sullivan died in 2004. Allison and Gerron divorced in the end. She passed away in 2018.

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