ByDave Conley, writer at
"Smokey, this is not 'Nam. This is bowling. There are rules."
Dave Conley
“At least the first 40 songs we (the Beatles) wrote were Buddy Holly-influenced.”
Sir Paul McCartney
“He made it OK to wear glasses. I was Buddy Holly.”
John Lennon

The Buddy Holly Story (1978)

While Jerry Lee Lewis' career was going down in flames another young musician influenced by the sound of Sun Records was coming out of Lubbock, Texas.

Charles Hardin Holley AKA Buddy Holly is best described by critic Bruce Eder as-

"the single most influential creative force in early rock and roll."His works and innovations inspired and influenced contemporary and later musicians, notably the Beatles, Elvis Costello, the Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan, and exerted a profound influence on popular music"

Gary Busey not only sang for the movies soundtrack he was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of Holly. The movie and Busey are really good despite being full of historical inaccuracies for instance they were actually the second white band to play at the Apollo theater and unlike the movie it took a few shows before audiences warmed up to him and the Crickets.

His stardom was tragically cut short when on Feb, 3, 1959 the small plane he was riding in with Richie Valens (see LaBamba 1987) and The Big Bopper, J.P. Richardson crashed in an Iowa corn field.

It was this horrific incident that inspired Don McLeans 1971 song American Pie.

Nowhere Boy (2009)

Meanwhile across the Atlantic some British lads were preparing for an invasion.

Inspired by Buddy Holly, Elvis and other Blues artists. England was about to explode! This movie tells the story of a young John Lennon and his relationship with his Mother and his aunt Mimi who raised him. It focuses on his teenage years (1955-60) and how he met Paul and George forming their first band The Quarrymen. It's a well acted dramatic piece well worth the watch.

I'm Not There (2007)

Back in the United States people started listening to folk music. There was something in the air. In 1963 Along came another guy inspired by Woody Guthrie, who became the new voice of a generation, He was also inspired by Buddy Holly.

But as he sang "The Times they are a Changin" so was he. In fact over the years his music has run the gamut of styles. He's gone through a lot of different personas in his life. How could one person portray that man? So here's what you do you get six. Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Marcus Carl Franklin, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, and Ben Whishaw. Of course none of them are named Bob Dylan But it's his life. A lot of the dialogue is taken from actual interviews. It's his music which he's credited for but apart from that the only other mention is this message at the beginning of this film.

"Inspired by the music and the many lives of Bob Dylan".

Imagine 6 different actors including a woman and an African American child to fully encompass Bob Dylan. Cate Blanchett was incredible as the circa 65-66 Dylan, Jude Quinn. I was particularly fond of how Director Todd Haynes portrayed the outrage caused when Dylan pulled out his electric guitar at the Newport Folk Festival. A bizarre yet engaging look at the man and the myth that is Bob Dylan.


Things started getting really weird after that. The British Invasion had begun with The Beatles, quickly followed by The Animals, the Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, and many others.

Meanwhile american Music was also heading towards Motown. "The Motown Sound", a style of soul music with a pop influence brought Berry Gordy 79 top ten hits between 1960 & 1969. No biopics so far. It was announced, but so far no Marvin Gaye biopic, or any others. I would suggest the documentary "Standing In the Shadows of Motown" (2002) about the Funk Brothers. The musicians behind all those Motown hits.

The Doors (1991)

In the mid to late 60's The scene had moved to California. The counterculture of free love and revolution combined with widespread use of hallucinogenic drugs had expanded peoples minds as well as their music. By 1967 the Beatles had a guru. The Electric Kool-aid acid tests had been done. It was the summer of love and two of the biggest parts of it's soundtrack were Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and the debut album from The Doors.

Oliver Stone's film portrays Morrison as the larger-than-life icon of 1960s rock and roll. A "F**king Dionysus!" As usual the film's depiction of Morrison was not well received by friends and family. Door's founding member and Keyboardist Ray Manzarek said,

"That Oliver Stone thing did real damage to the guy I knew: Jim Morrison, the poet."

However, Val Kilmer's performance as Jim Morrison was critically acclaimed, and one of his best roles. Members of The Doors noted that they had trouble distinguishing Kilmer's voice from Morrison's.

Jimi: All is by My Side(2014)

1967 was also the summer they held The Monterey Pop Festival. Sadly The Doors weren't invited and Berry Gordy reportedly refused to let any Motown acts play. The Beatles couldn't make it either but, Paul McCartney suggested The Who and this man that he'd seen playing songs from Sgt. Pepper's 3 days after they had released it. Jimi Hendrix. People were amazed and shocked at his performance.

This is another film that isn't a traditional biopic but just a slice of his life. The year and a half before he came back to America to debut at Monterey. Some people are worried that they have no rights to any Hendrix music but he covered a lot of other artists songs. Wild Thing, Hey Joe, All Along the Watchtower are just a few songs that he didn't write yet made his own. So to imagine that he was covering a lot of other artists songs while he was playing the pubs in London isn't a big stretch. Besides Andre '3000' Benjamin looks amazing as Hendrix. I'll be checking it out when it opens on Sept. 26th.

"Death is very often referred to as a good career move."
~Buddy Holly

By the end of 1971 Hendrix, Morrison and Janis Joplin, (another legend that needs a biopic), among others were all gone. Whether they died accidentally or were victims of their own excesses they gained legendary status yet didn't make it through the 70's.

But that's part 3- What's Love got to do with Stayin' Alive in the 70's


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