The Crickets was one of the most iconic rock and roll bands of America. They ruled over the industry for about five decades and produced millions of records. They are the core inspiration of nearly every major successful rock band or singer in America, including Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones, and even the Beatles. Their most popular hits include all-time favorites: “That’ll Be the Day,” “Oh Boy,” Not Fade Away,” “Maybe Baby,” “I Fought the Law,” “More Than I Can Say,” etc.
History of the Crickets
The band was formed in Lubbock, Texas. The main members of the band were Buddy Holly and J. I. Allison. Shortly after the band started recording, Holly and Allison recruited Joe B. Mauldin as a bassist. The Crickets were probably the pioneers of American rock music bands that wrote, played, produced, and recorded their material for quite a time. They are also credited for using dubbing and multi-track recording techniques even before it became a general practice in the recording studios.
The way this rock and roll band produced music and made it accessible to all was the real inspiration behind hundreds of budding garage bands in that era. Their style of playing instrumental guitar and drum was hugely popular among the young generation.
The Split and the Death of Holly
The history reiterates numerous times that The Crickets band was formed in a ruse in 1956. It is claimed that initially, Buddy Holly had a deal with Decca Records in Nashville. However, the deal had to end in despair as no one liked the recordings by the band. Soon after this breakup, Holly, Allison, and Mauldin found a more sympathetic producer, Norman Petty, who made a contract with the band.
The band recorded and produced one of their super hit songs, “That’ll Be the Day,” with Petty. They re-recorded the band’s songs that they already did with the previous producer. Coral records then became interested in the band’s song, Clovis, which had been recorded with Decca Records and could not be re-recorded under Holly’s name. So, Clovis was produced and credited to The Crickets.
Since the release of the song, “That’ll Be the Day,” the band gained fame overnight. There were concerts after concerts and gigs that made them popular. With time, in 1958, Buddy Holly got interested in expanding their music and shifted to New York. He lost track of his music and got more involved in the business side of the music while Allison and Mauldin continued to keep the flame of music going. They also added Sonny Curtis, one of their old friends, in the band as a lead guitarist who also started playing as a vocalist.
In 1958, the fans of this famous American rock band witnessed a spilt in which Buddy Holly departed ways with the band due to several comprehensible differences. Soon, fate brought Holly’s life to an end with a tragic plane crash on 3rd February 1959. Holly’s departure from the band and this world resulted in Allison becoming the de facto leader of the group.
The Band Members
1. J. I. Allison
Allison was the best drummer The Crickets could have gotten. He held the name of the band after Holly’s death and continued their touring with Curtis. He also became a celebrated drummer for playing records for some top session players, such as Bobby Vee, Eddie Cochran, Johnny Rivers, Waylon Jennings, Paul McCartney, etc.
He outplayed himself by his distinctive and catchy drumming skills on Peggy Sue. Peggy Sue was one of the instant hits by the band. One of the other memorable recordings of Allison’s unmatched drumming is “Till I Kissed You’ by the Everly Brother.
2. Joe B. Mauldin
After giving a major part of his career to the Crickets, Mauldin then opted to become a recording engineer at the Gold Star Studios – which produced several great names of the music industry, such as Phil Spector and Brian Wilson. Mauldin started his music career before co-founding The Cricket by playing in a Lubbock band named Four Teens. He continued to play as an original Crickets member even after the death of Holly.
Mauldin has the honor of being inducted into the West Texas Walk of Fame in Lubbock and the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville. He died in 2015 of cancer in Nashville.
3. Sonny Curtis
Curtis was also a native of Texas. He played as a lead guitarist in the initial song recordings with Buddy Holly and Decca Recordings. He had a fluid guitar playing style, which was a huge influence of Waylon Jennings. Besides his work with the Crickets, Sonny also became a leading solo star. He was also well-known as a respected songwriter. Several of his written songs have been played by famous singers such as Bing Crosby and Bear on the Andy Williams Show.
4. Waylon Jennings
The Crickets moved to Nashville after they associated with a recording label instead of being a touring band. This move initiated a long-term association of the band with Waylon Jennings, who was also one of their fast friends from the hometown, Lubbock, Texas. Jennings was a significant part of the group when they toured England, Spain, and numerous other European countries.
Jennings is known for giving up his seat on the ill-fated flight that crashed in February 1959, which also resulted in Buddy Holly’s death. Jennings ventures besides The Crickets include him forming a rock band named “The Waylors” in Scottsdale, Arizona.
The Crickets Made Everyone Go Crazy
This rock band continued to produce good quality songs throughout the ’80s and ’90s. They re-recorded several old songs that were recorded with Decca Recordings. They also toured extensively when they got an opportunity with Nanci Griffith and The Blue Moon Orchestra.
In the early 2000s, the Crickets again hit the studio, but this time with a Grammy award holder producer Greg Ladanyi, to record one of the popular albums of their end years, “The Crickets and Their Buddies.” The album included about 15 new tracks in contribution with Eric Clapton, John Prine, Graham Nash, Rodney Crowell, and several others.