photo manipulation by nacrowe
BUDDY HOLLY: RAVE ON (BBC, 2017) is a recent BRITISH documentary that examines the life and work of early ROCK N ROLL pioneer and cultural icon BUDDY HOLLY. notable interviewees include the likes of DUANE EDDY, SONNY WEST, DON EVERLY (THE EVERLY BROTHERS), BRIAN MAY (QUEEN), HANK MARVIN (THE SHADOWS), DON MCLEAN, ALBERT LEE, DION, PAUL ANKA as well as original CRICKETS JERRY ALLISON and SONNY CURTIS as well as his brother LARRY and his widow MARIA ELENA HOLLY.
what this documentary does a good job of is presenting the scope and breadth what was a tragically short 18 month recording career. its unfathomable to consider how impactful his short career actually was, profoundly influencing everything that came after, especially the BRITISH INVASION of the 1960s.
being from the small town of LUBBOCK in rural panhandle TEXAS, HOLLY was originally part of a duo with local BOB MONTGOMERY. after being signed to DECCA RECORDS, MONTGOMERY was let go unceremoniously as HOLLY was determined to be more marketable. it is an interesting what if in ROCK N ROLL history. after an unsuccessful stint recording in NASHVILLE, as the machine there didnt know what to do with him (didnt even let him play guitar or participate in arranging his own compositions), HOLLY relocated back to LUBBOCK and started recording with engineer NORMAN PETTY at his studio located across state lines in nearby CLOVIS, NEW MEXICO. that is where all the iconic early recordings were made including "PEGGY SUE," "EVERYDAY," "RAVE ON," "NOT FADE AWAY" and "MAYBE BABY" among others.
going into this i didnt know about how experimental those sessions were and their impact on THE BEATLES. essentially PETTY and HOLLY created unique arrangements that include eccentric recording techniques including the use of palm-muting ("THAT'LL BE THE DAY"), chord soloing and rolling patterns on tom-tom drums ("PEGGY SUE"), hands and knee slapping as percussion ("EVERYDAY"), cardboard boxes as percussion ("NOT FADE AWAY") and long intros that precede the opening verse ("MAYBE BABY"). this studio trickery opened up possibilities and gave permission for young emerging artists of the period to utilize nontraditional techniques in making each song sonically unique.
case in point are the final orchestra-backed recordings he made in NEW YORK CITY weeks before his passing with help from PAUL ANKA including the touchingly intimate "TRUE LOVE WAYS" written about his new wife MARIA. you get the sense that he was on to something new and attempting a new phase in his development. his loss is still senseless and tragic more than half a century later, much as his music is still relevant as ever.
in summation, BUDDY HOLLY: RAVE ON is a touching, insightful documentary well worth watching even for the most ardent ROCKABILLY aficionado or BUDDY HOLLY fan.