100 Greatest Singers

Aretha, Elvis, Lennon, Dylan and many more


Buddy Holly

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Born September 7th, 1936 (died February 3rd, 1959)
Key Tracks "That'll Be the Day," "Rave On," "Not Fade Away"
Influenced John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger

"He had this totally unique, perfect blend of old hillbilly and new rock & roll," says singer-songwriter Joe Ely. "And he had that bit of country in there to give it a sense of place." Ely grew up in Holly's hometown of Lubbock, Texas, which made him especially susceptible to Holly's signature vocal hiccup and other down-home touches. "It seemed like everybody in the whole town had a garage band and was playing 'That'll Be the Day' and 'Peggy Sue,' " Ely says. The future Beatles and Rolling Stones were doing the same thing across the Atlantic, trying to capture that quintessentially American vocal sound. "I saw Buddy Holly two or three nights before he died," Bob Dylan told Rolling Stone. "He was great. He was incredible."

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