A pioneer he was. Immortal he is. The legend of Buddy Holly, who perished in a plane crash 57 years ago with Richie Valens and the Big Bopper, is arguably the greatest innovation to music and pop culture today. Notwithstanding his influence on countless musicians such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, The Hollies, Elton John and Don McLean, Holly’s legacy resides in the comfort zone of immortality – that sweet spot reserved for special talents who often meet untimely deaths, cementing their existence on an unprecedented and almost divine level.
As innovation goes, Holly was a revolutionary who defied the odds and unleashed lyrical and technological genius on an unsuspecting world perhaps not ready for his shtick. While we celebrate genius within the confines of innovation and progressive curiosity — look no further than the likes of Steve Jobs and David Bowie, who in their own right epitomized generational opportunism — we respect their ability to change and adapt over long and fruitful careers. Holly wasn’t given the chance to grow and expand his ideas as his career lasted a short 18 months. Think about that for one second. Eighteen months, multiple hits, and he changed the musical and cultural landscape the second his plane came to rest in a frozen Iowa cornfield on February 3, 1959.
So why is Holly the ultimate free market warrior?
For one, Holly started changing the way we listen to music prior to his death. By experimenting with new sounds and double tracking his music, incorporating Latin rhythm and instrumentation into his songs, and presenting a unique style, it can be argued Holly was not just the first real three-piece band to hit the stage, but was also a fashion trendsetter which is evident in mainstream millennial fashion today. Look no further than the streets of every major populated city in the world and what do you see? That’s right, dark-rimmed glasses, thin ties and tapered suits – a style Holly perfected at a time of cultural upheaval.
Holly’s genius was in knowing what youth of the day wanted in sound and fashion. Having reached idol status as a rock n’ roll star, Holly’s image became the symbol of a generation yearning for new endeavours. He recognized that for his music to survive – as timeless as it is today – he needed to adapt and predict the demands of consumers across the world. Again, this all took place within an 18 month period. Imagine asking any government leader today to change the world in 18 months. It’s an impossible if not Herculean task, but one which Holly embraced in his short 22 years of life.
Finally, one commonality among free market, entrepreneurial success stories is the inherent personal connection with self confidence and the ability to seize the day. Look back at every major rags to riches success from Bill Gates to Ralph Lauren, and what do you find? An inner strength to defy their detractors — something Holly personified through his good Christian background and “I won’t take no for an answer” approach to life. This guy WAS the first early rock n’ roll entrepreneur, and he had fun doing it.
As his image and music grow in demand, the defining point of his legacy is that modern day entrepreneurs are doing everything they can to replicate Holly’s image and trademark(which ironically has been held tightly by Buddy’s widow until recently when she allowed Hologram USA to organize a Buddy Holly hologram show in 2016) because they recognize the value of his brand. Having met relatives of Buddy’s last year in Lubbock, Texas this is finally an opportunity for them to share Buddy’s story with the rest of the world. They deserve it more than anyone!
So on this day of all days we celebrate the life of Charles Hardin Holley (Buddy) as a free market entrepreneur; a warrior of his time, and trendsetter extraordinaire.
The music didn’t die…