58 user 30 critic

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.


Steve Rash


Alan Swyer (story), John Goldrosen (book) | 1 more credit »

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

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




Cast overview, first billed only:
Gary Busey ... Charles Hardin 'Buddy' Holly
Don Stroud ... Jesse
Charles Martin Smith ... Ray Bob
Conrad Janis ... Ross Turner
William Jordan William Jordan ... Riley
Maria Richwine Maria Richwine ... Maria Elena Santiago
Amy Johnston ... Cindy Lou
Dick O'Neill ... Sol Gittler (as Dick O'Neil)
Fred Travalena ... Madman Mancuso
Neva Patterson ... Mrs. Ella Holly
Arch Johnson ... Mr. Lawrence Holly
John F. Goff John F. Goff ... T.J. (as John Goff)
Gloria Irizarry ... Mrs. Santiago
Jody Berry Jody Berry ... Engineer Sam
Richard Kennedy ... Preacher


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


His story will have you singing, laughing, crying, cheering and stomping your feet. See more »


Biography | Drama | Music


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

6 September 1978 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

A História de Buddy Holly See more »


Box Office


$1,200,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Innovisions,ECA See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The film's 1979 press kit stated: "Nearly everyone over the age of 25 knows that in 1959 Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper died in that plane crash in Iowa. Many know that Don McLean's popular tune, "American Pie", eulogizes Buddy [Holly] when he refers to "the day the music died". Contemporary artists such as Linda Ronstadt are reviving Buddy's songs and earning gold records with them. Just about any 'golden oldies' [radio] station will play [Buddy] Holly's records within any given 24-hour period, and young people are reviving an interest in Holly [Holly] and music of the '50s. All of these commercial factors helped to make this project a viable production". See more »


As the disabled bus is towed into Clear Lake, Iowa, it is of the "Greyhound" cross-country type. In reality, The Winter Party '59 tour traveled in aged and unheated school buses. 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.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Caption shown after the end credits are over: "This film is dedicated to those who loved him first - Mr. & Mrs. Lawrence Holley, Maria Elena Holly" See more »


Referenced in Full House: Our Very First Night (1987) See more »


Listen to Me
Written by Buddy Holly and Norman Petty
Performed by Gary Busey
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Buddy Deserved Better
18 March 1999 | by sboxSee all my reviews

I've got to say it. Gary Busey saved this film. If it were not for his fine acting talents this film would have been sub par. I recommend the film but just barely.

The biggest difficulty with the film is its broad disregard for historical, geographical and physical accuracy. For example, why is Lubbock green and hilly? How come Buddy's producer Petty ignored? Where are the daily trips to the Clovis, New Mexico studio? Why is Nashville treated as a racist hate camp out to destroy the Holly sound? Why was Buddy's two week courtship to Maria treated as a complex, taboo, race mixing stereotype? Why are Buddy's tile boxes as light as feathers? Finally, why are the Crickets portrayed as trouble making roadblocks to Holly's talent?

Taken on their face these inaccuracies should spell doom for any film proclaiming itself, "The Buddy Holly Story." However, Busey does deliver a stirring portrayal as the man whose death eventually led to the day the music died.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 58 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed