Before the Beatles, before the Stones Rock & Roll was born with the release of "That’ll be the Day" on 27th May 1957, by Buddy Holly and the Crickets. With a fusion of rockabilly and country and western it redefined what a record could and should be. In fact it has been claimed that without this record and the following massive hits for Buddy Holly and the Crickets there would have been no Beatles and no Rolling Stones – both groups have agreed that they were strongly influenced by him. Buddy Holly was only a recognized artist from May 1957 until his tragic death in a plane crash in early 1959.
Alan Janes book tells the story of the rise of Buddy Holly from a little known Texas singer to the massive star and founder of Rock & Roll. Buddy is wonderfully portrayed by Roger Rowley (alternating with Glen Joseph). Roger looks like and sounds like Buddy Holly and is impressive with the energy he puts into this magnificent show. All the old favourite songs are performed during the evening from "Brown Eyed Handsome Man" to "Peggy Sue" to "Rave On" to "It Doesn’t Matter Any More" etc etc.
He is admirably backed by a plethora of talent. Will Pearce does a mean and sexy Richie Valance and Vivienne Smith, Lydia Fraser and Sarah Mahony are "The Snowbirds" – an enchanting singing, dancing and instrument playing group of girls who help to bring the whole of the 50’s era alive.
Director Matt Salisbury, does a tremendous job in keeping the buzz going throughout the whole show and inspires the cast to generate an incredible energy which sweeps across the audience. This is accentuated through the great musical supervision of John Bannister. The set is kept fairly basic but is tremendously effective in portraying the different scenes and is supported and enhanced by both great lighting and wonderful costumes.
The audience are encouraged to join in throughout the show, and after a few minutes of self consciousness, everyone seemed to lose themselves in the music and were more than happy to join in with singing and clapping as requested, The were also happy to respond to the "DJ’s on stage to help to create the authentic atmosphere of an American 50’s style radio show – even to the singing adverts!
The show moves at a fast pace, bringing the audience with it the whole way. At the end it does acknowledge the untimely death of Buddy Holly but not in a maudlin or sentimental way – you just feel sadness at the great loss to the world of this talented singer/songwriter.
Listening to the number of songs written by Buddy and knowing how many of them went on to be hits for other people as well as himself – including the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Peter and Gordon to name but a few – it hardly seems possible that a man whose career lasted under two years could have been the author of all these hits and whose voice is still recognizable today.
"Rave On" Buddy – you’re still missed!