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Plenty of celebratory treats to look forward to in the anniversary year of Buddy’s tragic passing, including a BBC documentary, a coffee table book and a vinyl reissue of this, The Crickets’ debut long-player


The Crickets – Left to right: Niki Sullivan, Jerry Allison, Buddy Holly and Joe Mauldin
John Beecher

“I always wondered why they put ‘vocal group with orchestra’ on the record, because we were a rock’n’roll band.” – Jerry Allison

In November 1957 something new arrived on the rock’n’roll scene. The cover of The “Chirping” Crickets, the first album from the rock’n’roll band The Crickets, featured the four members – Buddy Holly, Niki Sullivan, Jerry Allison and Joe Mauldin – smiling and squinting in bright sunlight. They looked incredibly normal. There was no delineated “star”, no “pretty boy” or “wild man” that took centre stage on the cover. Nor did they appear to be a doo-wop vocal group, despite their matching suits. A quick listen to the album demonstrated the dominance of lead vocals, guitar, bass and drums, with backing vocals on a few of the tracks.

Unsuspecting and possibly confused music fans didn’t realise this was a totally new paradigm — the first album by a rock’n’roll band.


In 1957 there were two types of rock’n’roll artists, at least as far as the record companies were concerned. There were solo stars — Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Chuck Berry — and vocal groups — The Drifters, The Coasters, The Midnighters. Some solo acts also credited bands such as Bill Haley And His Comets or Gene Vincent And His Blue Caps, but there was never any doubt who the “star” was on records or on album covers. It was a template rock’n’roll inherited from mainstream pop, geared entirely toward the promotion of solo artists and vocal groups, both of which were routinely backed by professional studio musicians on recordings.

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