Buddy Holly was born Charles Holley on September 7, 1936 in Lubbock, Texas. His family was very musical and he learned how to play the violin as his first instrument. He later learned the piano and the guitar.
In 1949, he met a fellow student at his high school named Bob Montgomery. They found that they shared a common interest in music and decided to start a musical performance group. Under the name "Buddy and Bob", the pair began performing at local night clubs. Their earliest music was mostly bluegrass, but switched to rock after Holly saw a live performance of Elvis Presley.
By 1955, the pair were so popular that they were placed on the same billing as Elvis when he came to Holly's hometown of Lubbock. Later that year, they opened for the popular Bill Haley and his Comets at a local concert and a record executive was watching in the audience. After the show, Holly was offered a solo contract with Decca Records and he accepted it.
Unfortunately, he became frustrated with his attempts to play solo and he returned to Lubbock, Texas. There, he recruited band members to form a group called "The Crickets". They were given studio time at Norman Petty's recording room in Clovis, New Mexico and produced a number of songs, including one called "That'll be the Day".
Coral Records subsequently signed the group, which changed their name to Buddy Holly and the Crickets. In 1957, they released the song as their first single and it became a massive hit. At the same time, Holly released a solo single "Starlight" that didn't prove to be nearly as successful.
In 1958, the group launched a tour of the United Kingdom and Europe, attracting a legion of foreign fans. Several members of the Beatles were reportedly in attendance at one of his shows and they cited him as a massive influence on their musical style. That year, he also married a woman named Maria Santiago.
In 1959, Holly decided to ditch the Crickets and go on a solo tour of the United States. After the tour stop in Clear Lake, Iowa, a plane was chartered to take them to their next stop in Fargo, North Dakota. The pilot decided to take off in a blizzard and the plane crashed shortly after takeoff in a nearby field. Buddy Holly was pronounced dead on February 3, 1959. Other victims of the crash were Ritchie Valens, J.P. Richardson, and the pilot, Roger Peterson.
Today, Buddy Holly is cited along with Elvis Presley as being one of the major influences on music during the 1950s. His style of rock influenced countless bands that would follow him and many tribute bands still exist today. After his death, more of his material surfaced and was released, including "True Love Ways", "Reminiscing", and "Bo Diddley".