The Crickets are a rock & roll band from Lubbock, Texas, formed by singer/songwriter Buddy Holly in the 1950s. Their first hit record was "That'll Be the Day", released in 1957.
Holly had been making demo recordings with local musician friends since 1954. Sonny Curtis, Jerry Allison, and Larry Welborn participated in these sessions. In 1956 Holly's band (then known informally as The Three Tunes) recorded an album's worth of rockabilly numbers in Nashville, Tennessee; the records were no more than mildly successful, and the band didn't hit pay dirt until 1957, when producer and recording engineer Norman Petty hosted Holly's sessions in Clovis, New Mexico.
Holly had already recorded for another label under his own name, so to avoid legal problems he needed a new name for his group. As the Crickets recalled in John Goldrosen's book The Buddy Holly Story, they were inspired by other groups named after birds , and then they thought of insects, apparently unaware of the Bronx R&B vocal group The Crickets, who recorded for Jay-Dee. It is worth noting that they almost chose the name "Beetles". Years later, The Beatles chose their band name partly in homage to The Crickets.
The Crickets were lead guitarist and vocalist Buddy Holly, drummer Jerry Allison, bassist Joe B. Mauldin, and rhythm guitarist Niki Sullivan. Sullivan dropped out after a little more than one year to resume his education. The Crickets, now a trio, continued to make stage and TV appearances, and recorded more songs, many composed by the band members themselves.
During 1957 Norman Petty arranged for The Crickets' recordings to be marketed under two separate names. The solo vocals went out as "Buddy Holly" and the songs with dubbed backing vocals were issued as "The Crickets." Petty reasoned, correctly, that disc jockeys might be reluctant to program a single artist too heavily, but would have no problem playing records by two seemingly different groups. Some disc jockeys referred to the band as "Buddy Holly and The Crickets," but the record labels never used this wording until after Holly's death.
In 1958, Holly broke with Petty and moved to New York to be more involved with the publishing and recording businesses. Allison and Mauldin chose not to move and returned to Lubbock. Holly now recorded under his own name with studio musicians Tommy Allsup and Carl Bunch. Waylon Jennings toured with him shortly after The Crickets folded.
Allison and Mauldin looked forward to rejoining Holly after he returned from a winter tour through the northern Midwest. It was on that tour that Holly was killed in a plane crash.
The Crickets went on performing after Holly's death. David Box a native of Lubbock, Texas and a near identical Buddy Holly soundalike would join the group as lead vocalist for their 1960 single of "Dont Cha Know" (Side A), and "Peggy Sue Got Married"
(Side B) released as Coral 62238. David Box ironically would later die in a charter plane crash on October 23, 1964 while touring as a solo singer.
In 1962, The Crickets' version of the Gerry Goffin–Carole King song "Don't Ever Change" (Liberty Records) reached the top 5 in the British single charts. The Crickets would also release in 1962 their album entitled "Bobby Vee Meets the Crickets" with Bobby Vee singing on lead vocals. In 1964, The Crickets recorded their version of the rock and surf song "California Sun" for their album of the same title.
In 1978, the award-winning film, The Buddy Holly Story, starring Gary Busey as Buddy Holly, presented an engaging but somewhat inaccurate depiction of the band's early years. Allison and Mauldin's names were altered as Jesse Charles and Ray Bob Simmons wherein Charles is portrayed with racism, and Sullivan was written out of the film altogether which made them upset over their portrayal.
Allison and Mauldin are still touring with Sonny Curtis, a highly successful songwriter and childhood friend/bandmate of Buddy Holly's, on vocals and guitar.
On October 28, 2008, The Crickets were inducted into the Musicians' Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee. They performed "Peggy Sue", "Not Fade Away" and "That'll Be the Day" at the ceremony, accompanied by guest guitarist Keith Richards.
20 Golden Greats (also known as Buddy Holly Lives) is a 1978 compilation album by Buddy Holly and The Crickets. Capitalizing on the success of the film The Buddy Holly Story, the collection became Holly's first number one album in the UK while reaching number 55 in the US, his first appearance on the US charts since 1963. In 2003, the album was ranked number 92 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
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