Did you know Buddy Holly’s iconic single “That’ll Be the Day” was inspired by a John Wayne movie? That’s right! Holly was inspired to write his breakthrough hit after he and drummer Jerry Allison saw The Searchers. “That’ll Be the Day” was Wayne’s signature phrase in the 1956 Western.
At the time, Holly had been recently dropped by Decca Records (yes, the same label that infamously passed on The Beatles). As a part of his agreement with Decca, Holly was not allowed to record any songs on any other label for five years. Holly released the song on May 27, 1957 billed as just The Crickets, as a way to get around the contract. The song quickly topped both the U.S. and UK singles charts, thrusting Holly into the international spotlight.
In his short career Holly became one of the most influential singer/songwriters of all time. In fact, he was one of the first popular performers to write his own songs. At the time it was common practice for record companies to hire songwriters that would supply songs to their artists. Holly was able to revolutionize conventional thinking by penning a slew of Top Ten hits, paving the way for a new generation of singer/songwriters to follow in his footsteps.
Holly released three albums during his professional career and wrote over 100 songs. He was tragically killed in a plane crash, at age 22, on February 3, 1959, but his influence still resonates with musicians to this day.
5 Fun Facts About “That’ll Be the Day”
1. It was the first song recorded by The Quarrymen, the band that later became The Beatles
2. Paul McCartney owns the publishing rights to the Buddy Holly Catalog, which includes “That’ll Be the Day
3. The song appears at #39 on Rolling Stone’s list “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”
4. Holly recorded two versions of the song. The second version became the hit, but the original was eventually released as a B-side to “Rock Around With Ollie Vee” later the same year.
5. “That’ll Be the Day” briefly appeared at #85 on the UK Singles Chart in 1986, the year Holly was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.