I can't remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride
But something touched me deep inside
The day the music died.
-Don McLean, American Pie (1971)
As an artist, Buddy Holly was only with us for 30 months - between 1957 and 1959. But in that short period, Holly's innovation and keen musicianship made him the Mozart of rock music and one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century.
As Philip Norman wrote in his book, Rave On: The Biography of Buddy Holly (1996), "he threw back the boundaries of rock 'n' roll, gave substance to its shivery shadow, transformed it from a chaotic cul-de-sac to a highway of infinite possibility and promise." All this by the age of 22.
The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen and others admit his influence. "His voice," as Norman notes, "is the most imitated, yet inimitable, in rock music."
In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Holly #13 in its list of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.