Biographies / Autobiorgaphies

Buddy Holly: The Real Story by Ellis Amburn

One of the many Buddy Holly biographies I ordered from Amazon.

The enduring image which exists about Buddy Holly is that of a bespectacled geek with a squeaky clean image who revolutionized music with his band The Crickets. While he certainly did revolutionize music, this book turns any preconceptions about his pure-as-driven-snow image on its head.

This book shows how Holly was a man of human contradictions. A devout Christian from Bible-Belt Texas, his faith was clearly at odds with his music career. He was an enterprising man, ahead of his time but capable of making mistakes and trusting those who would only take advantage of him.

I’m not entirely sure of the complete validity of some of the things Amburn writes about, but if it’s true then I’m not at all surprised. The book also contains snippets of interviews with Buddy’s brother Larry and wife Maria Elena,¬†because it made him all the more human.

The bit in the book about Buddy and Maria Elena’s marriage was rather sweet to read about. While people’s opinions of Maria Elena have been varied, it certainly seems like she was more savvy about the music business and thus warned Buddy about what Petty was up to.

However, this book also tends to go on unneeded tangents which would certainly trim down the length of the book. However, I read this in a few days so it wasn’t too unmanageable. It talked a lot¬†about the difficulties of the final tour and just shows that Buddy Holly and his group were little more than performing monkeys to their manager Norman Petty.

Similarly, the book also puts a big question mark over a number of ‘what ifs’ over the last days of the Crickets and that was interesting to read as well. It explores the fragility of the rock and roll movement but also exposes the frightening 1950s hypocrisy which was at the core of the movement’s suppression and also the reason that the angelic Holly image has been projected for such a long time.

MY RATING: **** / *****

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