a career that has spanned nearly five decades and millions of
records, The Crickets are unquestionably The American Rock and
Roll band. Since the group’s founding in 1957 they have
influenced virtually every major rock performer in the United
States and abroad – from Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan
to the Rolling Stones and the Beatles (whose name was even Crickets-inspired).
Their hits “That’ll Be The day,” Peggy Sue,”
“Oh Boy,” “Not Fade Away,” “Maybe
Baby,” “It’s So Easy,” “I Fought
The Law“ and “More Than I Can Say” are bona
fide rock classics and considered primary lessons in how rock
music should be written, played and enjoyed. As Paul McCartney
once put it, “If it wasn’t for the Crickets, there
wouldn’t be any Beatles.”
Crickets were formed in Lubbock, Texas by Buddy Holly and J.I.
Allison. Bassist Joe B. Mauldin was recruited shortly thereafter.
They were one of the first rock and roll bands to be self-contained,
writing, playing, producing and recording their own material.
They were among the first rock bands, too, to utilize overdubbing
and multi-track recording years before it became standard studio
practice. Above all, they were the first rock musicians to make
rock and roll truly accessible to their audience; their instrumental
format of guitar, drums and bass spawned thousands of garage bands
worldwide – including one formed by a very young John Lennon
and Paul McCartney.
the release of “That’ll Be The Day” in June
of 1957 and their many subsequent hits, The Crickets became the
leading rock and roll band in the world. In late 1958, Buddy Holly
decided to move to New York and become more involved in the business
side of music. Allison and Mauldin continued on with The Crickets,
adding their old friend Sonny Curtis as lead guitarist and vocalist.
Sonny had played guitar and fiddle in earlier groups with Buddy
and J.I, so his joining was a welcome and seamless fit with the
band’s unique sound and approach. The first Crickets’
album without Buddy Holly, "In Style With The Crickets",
was recorded in the same Clovis, New Mexico studio as had all
their hits, with additional sessions in New York and Los Angeles.
Their classics “I Fought The Law” and “More
Than I Can Say” were introduced on this album. With a new
Crickets recording contract with West Coast-based Liberty Records,
as well as a shift in focus from touring to the studio, Los Angeles
became home base for the group for the next 15 years.
J.I. Allison soon became one of the industry’s
top session players recording with Bobby Vee, Johnny Burnette,
Eddie Cochran, Johnny Rivers, Waylon Jennings, Nanci Griffith,
Paul McCartney and many others. His distinctive drumming style
on such hits as “Peggy Sue” by Buddy Holly and “Till
I Kissed You” by The Everly Brothers are among the most
memorable drum licks ever recorded. Phil Everly has called Allison
“the most creative drummer in rock and roll,” a fact
reinforced by Dell/Rolling Stone’s “Book Of Lists”
which ranks Allison among the top three rock and roll drummers
of all times. Allison also wrote such songs as “That’ll
Be The Day,” “Peggy Sue” and “More Than
I Can say.”
Joe. B. Mauldin, who is also ranked among the
top rock bassists by the “Book of Lists,” became a
recording engineer at Gold Star Studios, the legendary Los Angeles
studio that became the hit factory for Phil Spector, Brian Wilson
and other major 60s rock performers. While at Gold Star, Mauldin
engineered many hit recording sessions including those with Herb
Alpert & The Tijuana Brass, the Baja Marimba Band, Phil Spector,
Leon Russell and Maureen McGovern. An accomplished writer as well
as performer, Mauldin penned “Last Night,” “I’m
Gonna Love You Too” and “Well All Right.” He
has toured with The Everly Brothers, Johnny Burnette, Nanci Griffith
and Waylon Jennings.
Sonny Curtis, also a native Texan, played lead
guitar on Buddy Holly’s first Decca sessions. His fluid
guitar playing style was a major influence on Waylon Jennings.
In addition to his work with the Crickets, Sonny has enjoyed enormous
success as a solo recording artist and as one of Nashville’s
most respected songwriters. His songs have been recorded by artists
from Bing Crosby to the Bear on the Andy Williams Show. Among
his hit song credits: “Love Is All Around” (the Mary
Tyler Moore Television Show Theme song which Sonny also sang on
every opening segment of the show), “I Fought The Law,”
“Walk Right Back” which was a big hit for the Everly
Brothers, “I’m No Stranger To The Rain,” recorded
by Keith Whitley, and many others – including his own Elektra
Records hits “The Real Buddy Holly Story,” “Good
Old Girls” and “Cowboy Singer.”
the mid 70s, the Crickets moved to the Nashville area and began
a long association with Waylon Jennings whom
they had known since the early Lubbock days. In addition to touring
and recording with Jennings, the group made frequent international
tours including dates in England (where they recorded with Paul
McCartney), Spain, Germany, Sweden and Ireland. It’s an
annual tradition they continue to this day.
group has also continued to record, issuing albums throughout
the 80s and 90s. In April of 1995, they recorded “Not Fade
Away” with Levon Helm and The Band for a critically-acclaimed
musical tribute to Buddy Holly entitled “Not Fade Away”
released on Decca Records. The following year, The Crickets recorded
“Too Much Monday Morning” an album of all new material
and which featured guest vocalist Nanci Griffith. It was released
on the British label, Carlton. That year they also toured extensively
with Nanci Griffith and The Blue Moon Orchestra.
the years, the Crickets have appeared in motion pictures and numerous
documentaries, as well as top television shows including The Ed
Sullivan Show, Sunday Night At The London Palladium, American
Bandstand, The David Letterman Show, CNN, America’s Talking,
Westwood One Radio syndicated specials, and a two-hour Nashville
Network special shown worldwide.
the millennium approached, the Crickets were again in the studio with
Grammy®-award-winning producer Greg Ladanyi
to record what may well be their most memorable album of all,
“The Crickets and Their Buddies.”
The album features 15 new tracks of the band’s classic hits
with the Crickets joined by their “buddies” –
Eric Clapton, Graham Nash, John Prine, Rodney Crowell, Albert
Lee, Nanci Griffith, J.D. Souther, Johnny Rivers, Phil Everly,
Vince Neil, Bobby Vee, Tonio K. & Peter Case, and Waylon Jennings
(one of his last recordings).
a fitting musical tribute to a band who literally defined rock
and roll music, and who today, over 50 years later, still help
set the standard of excellence by which it should be judged.
The Crickets’ influence will not fade away. Ever.