Jerry Allison, drummer for Buddy Holly and the Crickets, dies at 82

Jerry Allison, drummer of 1950s rock band Buddy Holly and the Crickets whose crass style on “Peggy Sue” and “That’ll Be the Day” and later Everly Brothers recordings set a pattern for percussionists , including Mick Fleetwood and Ringo Starr, died August 22 at his home in Lyles, Tennessee. He was 82 years old.

The cause was cancer, said Crickets guitarist Sonny Curtis.

“We’ve always tried to keep everything relatively simple,” Mr Allison said. Told music blogger Scott K. Fish. “It was part of the plan. I’ve met a lot of drummers over the last 25 or 30 years – however long – and they play all the songs they know. And a lot of them, they play so much you can’t even catch it on a recorder.

In truth, Mr. Allison, along with his idols Earl Palmer and Charles Connor – the drummers of Little Richard – broke new ground in many classic rock-and-roll drum sounds. On Holly’s recordings, Mr. Allison not only played on a four-piece drum kit, but he also sometimes used his drumsticks on a cardboard box or simply played a solo cymbal, as on “Well…Okay.” On Holly’s Love Ballad”Every daythe percussion came from her slapping on the thigh. On “Does not weaken“, Mr. Holly played a Bo Diddley beat while Mr. Allison wove snare fills in and out of the guitar rhythm.

His work on “Peggy sweats,” is a deceptively simple use of paradiddles, a rudiment that most beginning students learn to practice with a metronome. Mr. Allison recorded it on a solitary, highly reverberated snare drum – the variation in tone and dynamics came from producer Norman Petty pulling the drums in and out of the mix – and he then moved the same beat between the snare and toms. when the crickets carried out the song on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in December 1957.

Several drummers have noted that “Peggy Sue” paradiddles require stamina to play steadily in time at a fast tempo. Years later, Fleetwood borrowed the motif from the song Fleetwood Mac “Second-Hand News” (1977).

“Peggy Sue”, which Holly originally thought should be played to a cha-cha or Latin beat, was originally intended to be titled “Cindy Lou” for Mr. Holly’s niece. However, Mr. Allison had in mind a young woman from Lubbock, Texas, Peggy Sue Gerron, who would hear the song for the first time at a Crickets concert in Sacramento, where she was attending college.

“My heart was pounding and my cheeks were on fire,” she wrote decades later in her autobiography, “What happened to Peggy Sue?” “With people all around me bouncing, swaying and chanting my name over and over again, I slumped in my seat, covered my face with my hands and shouted to myself, ‘What the hell is this? what have you done to me?’ (Mr. Allison and Gerron, who married and soon divorced, spent their honeymoon in Acapulco, Mexico, with Holly and his new wife, Maria Elena Santiago.)

It will be the daywas co-written by Mr. Allison and Holly after hearing John Wayne utter the title phrase in the 1956 western “The Searchers.” With an earworm of a melody and lyrics that hide their bitterness behind Holly’s nonchalant delivery, the much-covered song is among the ultimate rock-and-roll songs:

Well that will be the day

Yes, it will be the day

You say you’re leaving

Because it will be the day

The song, now ranked 39th on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Rock Songs, has sold over a million copies and has subsequently been covered by artists such as Linda Ronstadt. It was also placed in the Library of Congress National Registry of Records of Music of Cultural Significance in 2005.

Mr. Allison, who rarely took on a lead vocal, had a minor solo hit, “True wild childwhich he released under his middle name Ivan, with Holly on guitar. The tune peaked at No. 68 on the Hot 100 in 1958 and was later covered by punk rocker Iggy Pop in the ’70s.

In 1958, Holly moved to New York with her new wife, and her classmates decided to stay in West Texas. The Crickets continued with singer Earl Sinks and brought Lubbock guitarist Sonny Curtis into the fold. Holly died in a plane crash while on tour in February 1959 with fellow headliners Ritchie Valens and JP Richardson Jr., known as Big Bopper.

In the early 1960s, the Crickets became the touring band of the Everly Brothers and Allison contributed the distinctive tom-tom fills to their recording”(‘Til) I kissed you(1962).

Jerry Ivan Allison was born in Hillsboro, Texas on August 31, 1939. He began playing drums in his high school marching band, and in high school worked with Holly, who was three years his senior, sometimes in a duo.

“We were playing things like supermarket openings,” Mr. Allison told the Lansing (Mich.) State Journal in 1979. “Sometimes we were getting as much as $10 each.”

Holly and Mr. Allison, both fans of the popular doo-wop group the spiders, rejected a number of insect names, including beetles, before settling on crickets because, according to Mr. Allison , they “make a happy sound”. Ironically, an English band would later choose the rejected name – with a different spelling, Beatles – as a tribute to the Crickets.

The Crickets recordings, post-Holly, included the Curtis song “I fought the law,” later a hit for the Bobby Fuller Four and English punk rockers The Clash, and “More Than I Can Say,” co-written by M. Allison and Curtis, and later covered by Bobby Vee and Leo Sayer. Vee, a Holly-esque singer whose career took off after the Texas singer’s death, teamed up with Mr. Allison on the 1962 album “Bobby Vee Meets the Crickets.”

In the 1960s and 1970s, Mr. Allison and Curtis focused on songwriting, starting a Nashville-based publishing company, Mark Three. Company copyrights included those of Curtis “Love is everywhere,” the theme of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”.

Over the next few decades, Mr. Allison continued to play rockabilly alumni and shows with a rotating Crickets team and accompanied singer-songwriter Nanci Griffith on her 1997 album ‘Blue Roses From the Moons’. . Mr Allison, who owned the Crickets name, officially retired the group in 2012.

When he wasn’t performing, recording or writing songs, Mr. Allison farmed with his wife of 63 years, the former Joanie Sveum, in Lyles, Tennessee. Mr. Allison had no children.

Reflecting on the success of ‘Peggy Sue’, Mr. Allison once said, “When you listen to this song, tell me what in the world – why would anyone buy a song with these lyrics? But that’s the interpretation popping out and this catchy rock and it bites you, you know?

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