The Last of the Crickets

Jerry Allison, drummer for The Crickets, performing in 2009 at the 50th Anniversary of Buddy Holly’s death

For a lot of old Boomers, Buddy Holly and the Crickets were one of the seminal roots of rock and roll music. They pioneered not just the music that’s the soundtrack for WC’s generation; they also invented that distinctive band composition: a guitar-vocalist (Buddy Holly), a drummer (Jerry Allison), a bassist (Joe Mauldin) and a rhythm guitarist (Niki Sullivan). While Holly sang lead, all members of the Crickets joined on harmonies. They performed mostly stuff they has written and arranged, and has an instantly recognizable, highly distinctive “sound.” It’s a template now, copied by tens of thousands of garage bands and an amazing number of members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Rock and Roll had more than one inventor, but The Crickets have to be counted among that group.

Jerry Allison, the last surviving member of The Crickets, died August 22. He was 82 years old. His first wife, Peggy Sue Gerron, is the Peggy Sue in The Crickets’ hit song of that name.1

Allison and Mauldin anchored the band for decades after Holly’s death. They never had another big hit, but they were highly regarded by other musicians and much sought after as backing musicians for recording and touring. The Crickets played with an astonishing array of better known stars over the years, ranging from Conway Twitty to Emmy Lou Harris to the late Nanci Griffith (with whom they have toured for many years), Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Johnny Rivers, Waylon Jennings, Albert Lee, Bobby Vee, and many, many others.

The Crickets played their farewell, final concert in 2016 at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. For readers who, unlike WC, aren’t compulsive rock historians, that’s where Buddy Holly did his last show on the night of his death.

It’s a bit of a cliché to call it the end of the era. A number of WC’s friends would argue the era ended on February 3, 1959, with that terrible plane crash, the day the music died. But it’s an end of sorts, and should not pass without comment. R.I.P. Jerry Allison, 1939-2022.

Yeah, three obituaries in one week. And that’s without mentioning Queen Elizabeth of Jerry Mackey. WC will endeavor to more widely apply the Magpie Principle for a while.

 1 It’s controversial, but some drummers claim that in “Peggy Sue,” Allison was the first drummer to include one of rock’s most celebrated drum parts, a rolling pattern called paradiddles. YMMV.

2 thoughts on “The Last of the Crickets

  1. Do not apologize for multiple obits. Your brief re-telling of the high points of the lives of the folks you eulogize (either heroes or scoundrels), is always enlightening and entertaining. As an added bonus, I often go down the rabbit hole of “Related Posts” at the blog’s conclusion.

    So please, continue writing about whatever strikes your fancy, just try not to “commit any journalism” in the process.

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  2. Ever mention that I attended a Crickets’ rehearsal in a big Quonset hut when I around 6? Buddy Holly lived two doors from my grandparents and was a classmate of my Mom’s younger brother, TJ. They bonded over hot rods and my uncle, who had to babysit me, took me along to work on some cars in the hut after they finished rehearsal. As I recall, I was bored to tears.

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