Buddy Holly, whose real name was Charles Hardin Holley, was born and raised in Lubbock, Texas.
Lubbock, in west Texas, has been called the “buckle” of America’s Bible Belt and it had its effects on Holly. He grew up going to the Tabernacle Baptist Church there, his family was very devout and most members of his family even served the Tabernacle Baptist Church in some capacity or another.
In fact, it was the Tabernacle Baptist Church (and its pastor at the time, Ben Johnson) where Holly marked his short life’s most significant moments. He was baptized there, had his wedding there, and his funeral was held there as well.
However, Holly was often considered a bit of a renegade in the Lubbock community. One story has Pastor Johnson asking Buddy in church one day what he would do if he had $10. Holly replied:
If I had $10, I wouldn’t be here.
And while Holly made a public profession of Jesus Christ at the age of 14, many say he never lived up to it. One biographer, Ellis Amburn, wrote of Holly:
He became sexually adventurous, a moral outlaw in his time…
It was reported that Holly was know to stay out late as a teenager, smoking and drinking as well. You know, normal teenage stuff. But in the devout community of Lubbock, this might have been quite the scandal.
Holly was certainly not averse to bucking tradition. He knew what he was getting into when he married Latin American woman Maria Elena Santiago. Holly’s brother, Travis, said:
I think Mom and Dad were skeptical because of her not being the same religion. But I just figured he would change her, or she would change him.
And Maria recalls how Buddy warned her against the backlash she might be subject to in Lubbock, being both Hispanic and Catholic. But clearly, he didn’t care enough to not go through with the marriage.
It’s hard to look back at Buddy Holly, with his relatively innocent rock 'n roll love songs, his horn-rimmed glasses and his naive smile, and see a rebel. But these were different times indeed.
Buddy Holly died at the age of 22 in a plane crash on his way to a gig. He seems to have never really mentioned politics during his short lifetime. His life straddled World War II. And not that there wasn’t political dissent and controversy during this time, but most nationalistic energy was directed toward beating the Axis powers.
However, some say that Holly, having pioneered the art form of rock 'n roll, helped to heal the post-war generation. Lubbock, Texas artist, Terry Allen, said:
Buddy’s guitar was the weapon that fired the first shots in the worldwide political, cultural, and even spiritual revolutions which freed the numbed and damaged post-war minds in the mid-Twentieth Century, leading to the quantum leaps in creative output which we have witnessed in the past 50 years. Buddy Holly’s intense and palpable boyhood dream manifested as the very Age of Rock-n-Roll. The dreams of young Buddy Holly have forever altered the consciousness of the World.
Well said. We’ll just leave it at that.