Last night, on what would have been Buddy Holly's 75th birthday, some of music's biggest names celebrated the late singer at a tribute concert at Hollywood's Music Box. The show brought out a cross-generational, multi-genre array of rock and country stars to perform Holly songs – from Stevie Nicks and Graham Nash to Michelle Branch, Patrick Stump and Cobra Starship. Whether they knew him personally, as Phil Everly did, or heard his music on oldies stations like Stump, every artist on hand had their own special reason for being there to pay their respects to one of rock & roll's originators.
"He was important to me," Nash told Rolling Stone backstage. "His music was so much a part of me growing up and wanting to be a musician. He played his last show on my 17th birthday, so I remember distinctly me and Alan Clarke crying our eyes out on the street corner when we found out on the radio Buddy had died."
For Everly it was a chance to pay respects to a lost friend. "Buddy and Maria Elena [Holly's widow] and I used to double date," Everly said."Coming here is like a lifetime reunion."
After a video tribute from Wilson, who sang "Happy Birthday," Nicks kicked off the show with "Not Fade Away." Musically, the show lived up to the diversity it promised with several standout performances, including Raul Malo's gorgeous vocals on both "Listen To Me" and "True Love Ways"; Boz Scaggs, Nash, and Peter Asher kicking out some bluesy jams on "Rave On"; Cobra Starship and Stump proving the new generaation can groove Holly's music on "Think It Over"; Lyle Lovett playing with Elvis Presley's guitarist, James Burton, on "I'm Lookin' For Someone To Love"; and Nash's sweet "Take Your Time." (The show will air on PBS on a date to be determined.)
The show dragged a bit at points, but nothing could take away from the celebration of a true legend or the sense of rock history that was felt throughout. Just being in a room with the likes of Elvis's guitarist and Phil Everly turned the other musicians into awe-struck fans in their own right.
"The whole experience is incredible to be a part of," Lovett said, "just walking into the rehearsal room with those guys on stage."