top of page

Peggy Sue Got Married - Buddy Holly

Everyone knows Buddy Holly's song "Peggy Sue", technically his first hit way back in 1957. In reality it was his second as the first, "That'll be the Day" was credited to the Crickets. just two years later he'd be dead, killed in an aircrash along with the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens.

"Peggy Sue got Married" was recorded in December 1958, just two months earlier, and then remixed with the band and backing vocals next June to become one of many posthumous releases. It didn't make the charts, but did supply the title and theme tune for a Francis Ford Coppola movie in 1986. It is also one of the first song sequels in rock music, referring directly to the previous number one hit.

The legacy of Buddy Holly is curious: many people nowadays can understand the iconic status of the usual list of hallowed rock and roll pioneers - Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis etc - but often balk at the inclusion of Buddy Holly. "Why is here there?" they ask. Why? Because he was so influential in the rock and pop that followed, particularly via the heavily influenced Beatles, that his music perhaps doesn't stand out as much as it should. But this has all the hallmarks that made thousands of very ordinary looking white kids pick up a guitar and give rock and roll a try. Super melody, tight vocal, a great chunky chord dominated guitar solo, and those oh so cool vocals with their deep drops in tone counterbalanced by his occasional trade mark hiccups.

But us Buddy Holly people are like marmite lovers, we love him, while others just don't get the point.

Ostensibly, he's seems to be breaking the bad news to one of her old flames, softening the blow by pretending he thinks the listener has never met her by saying she's the one who's been "in nearly every song". But the sadness in his voice, suggests that maybe he kept a candle burning for her too.

So this is a simple ditty about the sadness of growing up, the feeling we've all felt when we hear our first teenage crush has tied the not. Or maybe our rock star teen idol has died. Short, sad and bittersweet. A feeling we never forget.

I have a particular fondness for it because of a moment I shared with UK arts guru Peter Stark. Having met him fleetingly at a conference in Swansea, I bumped into him in the foyer of the de La Warr Pavilion at a similar event a year later. Now, I hate these events, all the smooth young upwardly mobile arts admin tyros always give me a wide berth and I am usually marooned while everyone else has broken up into animated little groups in seconds.

But on this occasion Stark greeted me like a long lost friend espied on a mountainside. For some reason I referenced Buddy Holly in the conversation - I think I said "that'll be the day" - and he said "do you like Buddy then?", "you betcha" I replied, and he, possibly to test me, asked: "what's your favourite?". "That's easy" I replied, "Peggy Sue Got Married". "Amazing - me too" he said and then, very loudly he sang:

"Please don't tell"

and I sang back

"no, no, no"

then we both sang:

"don't say that I told you so I just heard a rumour from a friend"

and we were off, harmonies and all:

"I don't say that it's true I'll just leave that up to you if you don't believe I'll understand

you recall a girl that's been in nearly every song this is what I heard of course the story could be wrong

she's the one I've been told now she's wearing a band of gold Peggy Sue got married not long ago

you recall a girl that's been in nearly every song this is what I heard of course the story could be wrong

she's the one I've been told now she's wearing a band of gold

Peggy Sue got married not long ago Peggy Sue got married not long ago"

When we finished there was shocked silence around us for a moment, then the network conversations began again but some of these youngsters were looking at me with new respect. No, not new respect, new jealousy. And I thought, "fuck you, now you'll definitely never talk to me, but at least this time it's for all the right reasons".

Us Buddy Holly people are like that.

bottom of page