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The Buddy Holly Story (1978)

The story of the life and career of the early rock and roll singer, from his meteoric rise to stardom, to his marriage and untimely death.



(story), (book) | 1 more credit »

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Ross Turner
William Jordan ...
Maria Richwine ...
Amy Johnston ...
Cindy Lou
Sol Gittler (as Dick O'Neil)
Madman Mancuso
Mrs. Ella Holly
Mr. Lawrence Holly
John F. Goff ...
T.J. (as John Goff)
Mrs. Santiago
Jody Berry ...
Engineer Sam


The musical career of rock and roll pioneer Buddy Holly is chronicled, from the days when "Peggy Sue" was "Cindy Lou", a song about his first girlfriend, to the meteoric run of "That'll Be the Day" up the charts, to his marriage, breakup with the Crickets, reunion with the Crickets, and untimely death. Written by Jason A. Cormier <wildrose@mindspring.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The music you'll love forever. The man you'll never forget. The movie you must not miss. See more »


Biography | Drama | Music


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

3 November 1978 (Finland)  »

Also Known As:

A História de Buddy Holly  »


Box Office


$1,200,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


This major motion picture's opening title card reads: "Lubbock, Texas 1956". See more »


The billboard on the Clear Lake Auditorium (standing in for the Clear Lake Surf Ballroom) reads "Feb 3". Buddy Holly's final performance was Monday, Feb. 2, 1959. See more »


[first lines]
Buddy Holly: Hey, Riley, we're all plugged in and checked up... yeah, we're ready.
Buddy Holly: [to Ray Bob] Riley wants to hear you at the mike - that's the one right there; say somethin' into that mike.
Ray Bob Simmons: One, two, three, testing... one...
Buddy Holly: [to Riley] How's that sound?
Riley Randolph: All right, that's a good level, Buddy, hold it right there... Yeah, you better get ready, it's about thirty seconds till eight.
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Crazy Credits

Caption shown at end of film: "Buddy Holly died later that night along with JP 'The Big Bopper' Richardson and Ritchie Valens in the crash of a private airplane just outside of Clearlake... and the rest is rock 'n' roll!" See more »


Referenced in Midnight Screenings: The Gingerdead Man (2017) See more »


That'll Be the Day
Written by Buddy Holly (uncredited), Jerry Allison (uncredited) and Norman Petty (uncredited)
Performed by Gary Busey
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User Reviews

Not very factual, but the music rocks and so does Gary Busey
28 February 2006 | by See all my reviews

I turned 13 when Elvis hit the big times in 1956 with his first RCA hit. A year later Buddy Holly stepped in to give the King some competition. One of Buddy's major talents, besides his unique singing style and his songwriting ability, is often downplayed. Buddy was also a skilled lead guitar player, developing a unique rockabilly style all his own on his Fender Strat. Gary Busey attempts to capture this aspect of Buddy's persona. There were other contemporary master guitar rockers of equal caliber, such as Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, and Eddie Cochran, but Buddy's talent is often overlooked.

As noted by others, Busey is the driving force behind the success of "The Buddy Holly Story." Not only does the script play with the facts of Buddy's life, but it even interjects several anachronisms for the two years of Buddy's popularity, basically 1957-1959. One that comes to mind is the scene where Buddy and Maria are watching a 3-D movie. Buddy is disenchanted with it all and tells Maria that it'll never last. It's just a fad. In reality there were no 3-D movies in circulation at the time. The heyday for 3-D was in the early 1950's. By 1955 the fad had already faded. Yet another example where just a little research would have sufficed to make the story more believable.

At times it is difficult to separate what really happened from urban legends surrounding Buddy's career. The story about how the Crickets got their name may or may not be apocryphal, but it certainly did not take place the way it is presented in the movie. Another problem with the film is how Buddy's parents are depicted. Certainly Buddy's parents were supportive of his musical career. "Maybe Baby" is credited to Buddy's mother and she did have input into the writing of the song.

It's good that Buddy's biggest hits were used in the movie, but I miss hearing one of my favorites, "I'm Looking For Someone to Love." I'm proud that as a result of this movie, Buddy's music was reissued for a new generation to hear. His legacy is one of the very best from the early days of rock 'n' roll. Rave on, Buddy, rave on.

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