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The Day The Music Was Born
by Laura Fisher
from Texas, Our Texas: 150 Moments That Made Us What We Are,
edited by Texas Monthly

    In early 1955, during rock and roll's nascence, the Cotton Club in Lubbock booked Elvis Presley.
As Elvis' band approached the edge of town, they were met by a young local musician named Buddy Holly, who took the as yet uncrowned King on tour of his hometown, then just a dusty agricultural center of 110,000 people.

Holly had already melded his early influences -- country, Western Swing, blues, rhythm and blues, bluegrass -- into an embryonic rockabilly sound. But after meeting Elvis (who was essentially what Buddy Holly wanted to be, a white performer who sounded black), Holly worked more black styles into his playing. He called the new sound Western and bop.

At first he was billed as a country singer. Never mind that onstage his shy demeanor gave way to frenetic raving. The teenagers at the Lubbock County Center, where he played his first concerts, heard something unforgettable in Holly's rollicking tunes and signature hiccup. When he jumped into his six-syllable "We-eh-eh-eh-ella" at the beginning of "Rave On," they knew this was music they could dance to.

In Texas, Holly bridges the gap between Bob Wills & ZZ Top, but his influence extends far beyond Texas. He was one of the first rock musicians to write his own songs. The first song the Beatles recorded was a 78 rpm of his "That'll Be the Day," and even their name was a play on his group's name, "the Crickets." Holly merged Texas music with rock and roll and set the world dancing to a West Texas beat.

copyright Texas Monthly, 1986

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