Entertainment

Paul McCartney discusses Buddy Holly’s influence in Radio 2 documentary

The US musician, who has been regarded as a pioneer for rock and roll, died aged 22 on February 3 1959 in a plane crash in Iowa.

Sir Paul McCartney has paid tribute to Buddy Holly
The Graham Norton Show – London Sir Paul McCartney has paid tribute to Buddy Holly (Ian West/PA)

Sir Paul McCartney has hailed the late Buddy Holly as an “all-inclusive one-man band” as he spoke of the influence the singer had on The Beatles.

The US musician, who has been regarded as a pioneer for rock and roll, died aged 22 on February 3 1959 in a plane crash in Iowa along with fellow passengers and musicians Richie Valens and JP “The Big Bopper” Richardson and their pilot Roger Peterson.

To mark the 65th anniversary of Holly’s death, broadcaster Bob Harris has presented a new BBC Radio 2 documentary which pays tribute to the singer’s legacy through a series of archive clips and quotes from music stars including Sir Paul, Joe Brown and Hank Marvin.

Buddy Holly (Brunswick Records/Alamy)
Buddy Holly (Brunswick Records/Alamy) Buddy Holly (Brunswick Records/Alamy) (Alamy Stock Photo)

Reflecting on Holly in the show, Beatles star Sir Paul said: “Buddy Holly to us was amazing for a number of reasons.

“On a musical level he sang and played guitar, Elvis just sang and Scotty Moore played guitar.

“He not only played guitar, he played the solos. Normally if you played guitar there was another guy in the group who was the lead guitar who played the solos, but Buddy sang, played guitar and played the solos.

“He also wrote the stuff. So this was like all-inclusive one-man band and we really thought that was great. We thought this is what we have to do.”

Holly’s work had a strong influence on The Beatles, with their name intended to be a homage to Holly’s backing band The Crickets.

Sir Paul, whose music publishing company owns the rights to Holly’s work, previously organised an annual festival in the singer’s honour, dubbed Buddy Holly Week, which ran from 1976 to 1999.

The Beatle also recalled how fellow band member John Lennon stuck by his horn-rimmed glasses after Holly came out wearing a similar pair.

Paul McCartney adopts a Buddy Holly-style look as he attends a rock’n’roll party at the Lyceum Ballroom in London
Music – Paul McCartney – London Paul McCartney adopts a Buddy Holly-style look as he attends a rock’n’roll party at the Lyceum Ballroom in London (PA/PA)

He said: “John had these horn-rimmed glasses at the time and if ever there would be a girl coming round John would whip his glasses off and put them in his pocket and squint as she went by.

“And I would say, you look pretty good, the glasses are good, no, but when Buddy came along the glasses stayed on…

“It was like Harry Potter with all the kids.”

The programme will also feature a specially remastered version of a Holly’s song It’s So Easy recorded by Denny Laine, which Sir Paul provided to the show.

In the programme Harris introduces the record, saying: “Paul has also reminded us about a special album from 1977 from his great friend and musical collaborator Denny Laine, who sadly passed away in December, Holly Days.

“He (Paul) has given us a special remastered version of It’s So Easy.

“Recorded in Rude Studios, Scotland, with Paul laying down the basic tracks, including some overdubs, on his four-track recorder.

“Denny and Linda McCartney added some instrumental parts and all three joined in on the vocals. Denny sang lead and the McCartneys harmonised.”

Bob Harris presents the show
Wild Rose Premiere – 62nd BFI London Film Festival Bob Harris presents the show (Ian West/PA)

The show also features quotes from lyricist Tim Rice and radio presenter Paul Gambaccini, alongside Buddy Holly covers from The Libertines and PP Arnold.

BBC Archive clips from Holly, the Crickets and Holly’s wife Maria Elena are also in the show, as well as quotes from The Who’s Roger Daltrey, Fleetwood Mac’s Mick Fleetwood and The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards.

Harris said: “In Buddy Holly’s all too short time making unforgettable music, he left a lasting musical legacy that still stands the test of time.

“I’m so looking forward to delving into his life a bit deeper for this documentary and hearing from the many famous fans who loved and have been influenced by his music as it continues to inspire so many people to this day.”

The show, titled Listen To Me, presented by Bob Harris, is on BBC Radio 2 from 1am on Saturday February 3 and will be available on BBC Sounds.