3. The Quarrymen, “That’ll Be the Day”
The Beatles are the most acute example of Buddy Holly’s cultural legacy. As teens John, Paul and George bonded over a mutual love of the Holly’s music and soon formed their own “skiffle and rock” group, The Quarrymen, whose very first recording was a cover of “That’ll Be the Day.” Awww, the baby Beatles. I wanna pinch John’s cheeks and give George a noogie.
5. 13th Floor Elevators, “I’m Gonna Love You Too”
I’m hesitant to overload this list with cover songs. After all, you won’t want to celebrate Buddy Holly’s birthday after listening to The Fray’s version of “Take Your Time” (because you’ll want to kill yourself). Still, I have to talk about The 13th Floor Elevators. Because The 13th Floor Elevators are what Buddy Holly would’ve sounded like had he been introduced to mescaline, their live version of “I’m Gonna Love You Too” is the only really great Buddy Holly cover there is. Lead singer Roky Erikson beats Holly at his own game with the one-part-croon-two-parts-hiccup vocals, but as always the true star is Tommy Hall and his electric jug. There should definitely be more electric jugs.
6. Weezer, “Buddy Holly”
I shouldn’t have to explain why this is one here. If you want to know more about how we feel about Weezer at The L, just ask Lauren Beck.
7. Gary Busey’s stardom
Believe it or not, Gary Busey was once considered to have a promising future in the entertainment industry. Of course this was back in the 70s, when Gary starred as Buddy Holly in the film The Buddy Holly Story. He actually managed to snag himself an Academy Award nomination for the role, and we can only assume that no one from the Academy had yet had a chance to actually meet him. Anyway, the bottom line is this: before The Buddy Holly Story, Gary Busey was a nobody; afterward he had the recognition he needed to score roles in such classic as Lethal Weapon and Point Break. As I see it, we have Buddy Holly to thank for Gary Busey’s stardom, which is probably the most important reason to celebrate Buddy today. I think we can all agree that a world without Gary Busey is a world we never want to know.
8. Quantum Leap, “How the Tess Was Won”
In the first season of this canonical television series, Sam Beckett (played by the Scott Bakula) travels back to small Texas town in 1956 where he must protect the integrity of time by convincing a then-unknown 19-year-old Buddy Holly to change his lyrics from “piggy souie” to “Peggy Sue.” Despite the historical inaccuracies of the episode (Buddy already had a recording contract and was working in Nashville by 1956), “How The Tess Was Won” honors Holly by arguing that without him the modern world as we know it was doomed. Whether or not you agree with this theory, we can be sure that without Buddy Holly there would at least have been one fewer episodes of Quantum Leap. Anything that gives Scott Bakula more screen time is fine by me.
9. Bob Dylan’s acceptance speech for his 1998 “Album of the Year” Grammy for Time Out of Mind
It was unusually heartwarming for the often curt Dylan. He gave special thanks to Buddy Holly and for a moment we were allowed a glimpse of the young Dylan, the awkward 16-year-old, practically the only Jew in Minnesota, who once stood three feet from Buddy Holly at a concert in Duluth and who swears Buddy looked at him. It’s what fanboys and -girls like myself (and all of my coworkers and friends) live for: when we can believe for a moment that our heroes are maybe as nerdy as we are. [I do not live for this—Ed.] Because I do this at every concert I go to (I swear, Ty Segall really did look at me at The Troubadour last March), I’ll love Bob Dylan forever, even though he straightened his hair and sang songs about Santa.