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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.


Steve Rash


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

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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?


Once producer Fred Bauer had secured the three principals who also could play the musical instruments with professionalism, he engaged a long-time friend, Joel Fein, to complete yet another crucial aspect of this innovative production. Fein, well known throughout the audio profession for his work in producing and designing sound for live music events on both radio and television across the country, was brought in to stage and record the live concerts in which the movie's fifteen musical numbers are performed. Most music-oriented pictures employ the lip-synchronized method of pre-recording music and matching it to the actors' performances later in the film's post-production stages. All the music in The Buddy Holly Story (1978) was performed and recorded on the scene. See more »


Although the film correctly notes that the song "Peggy Sue" was originally called "Cindy Lou," Holly actually used the name of his niece, not his girlfriend. The song was later renamed after Jerry Allison's girlfriend. Peggy Sue Garron. 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 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 Full House: Our Very First Night (1987) See more »


Words of Love
Written by Buddy Holly
Performed by Gary Busey
See more »

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User Reviews

Gary Busey Creates a Larger than Real Life Buddy Holly
5 February 2007 | by cgvegasSee all my reviews

If there is one reason to watch this movie, it's not for an accurate depiction of Buddy Holly's life and career; it's for Gary Busey's incredible portrayal of the lead character. Busey received a well deserved Best Actor Oscar nomination for his tour de force. The film is a "docudrama" that overstates and over-glorifies Holly's contribution to and achievements in the early Rock and Roll era. I guess John Lennon was joking when he said "Before Elvis, there was nothing" because anyone who watched this movie understands that nobody knew what they were doing before Good Ole Buddy emerged on the scene a few years later. And he did it all without a producer or even a band who believed in and supported him! But when you're in the same league as Motzart, anything's possible! That's what makes Busey's performance so remarkable; he is so convincing and compelling that you actually believe this is who Buddy Holly was. Busey succeeds in creating this charismatic and dynamic performer,leader and visionary who never existed to that extent. The final scene is case in point when Holly is bombastically leading Richie Valens and the Big Bopper on stage during the final concert; in reality it could have been the 4th co-headliner, Dion and Belmonts closing that show and Holly playing drums for them which he had to do often on that tour. But this movie is not about presentation of the hard facts, but a celebration of a man and his music, which Busey's performance along with all of Holly's best songs easily accomplishes.

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