Singer-songwriter Don McClean may be best known for his enigmatic song “American Pie” from the 1971 album of the same name. He dedicated that album to one of his rock and roll heroes, Buddy Holly. On the morning of February 3, 1959 McClean heard of Buddy’s untimely death in a plane crash. The lyric “February made me shiver, with every paper I’d deliver” refers to that fateful day. Still, Buddy is remembered for his musical talent as well as stylish glasses, which continue to be worn by others.
Buddy was born as Charles Hardin Holly on September 7, 1936 in Lubbock, Texas. His innovative approach to music went on to influence some of rock music’s greatest icons, such as Bob Dylan, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Keith Richards and Bruce Springsteen. Buddy was among the first inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. One of his classics, which was inspired by John Wayne in the movie The Searcher, is “That’ll Be the Day.” Another of his hits called “Peggy Sue” was originally written about Buddy’s niece, Cindy Lou. However, Buddy changed the name at the request of his drummer, who eventually married Cindy.
Buddy’s thick black glasses became his trademark. Philip Norman, who is Elton John’s biographer, stated Elton began wearing his own legendary glasses to pay homage to Buddy. Today, 5 miles north of the plane’s crash site in Clear Lake, Iowa, sits a large steel replica of Buddy’s iconic black frames. They stand as a reminder of the vision this young musician showed through his music. Sadly, it’s music that ended much too soon.