Jerry Allison obituary

Whenever three or four kids get together with an electric guitar or two, bass and drums and decide to write their own songs, whether they decide to call themselves the Beatles, the Ramones, Nirvana or something they still argue, they basically follow a pattern set by Jerry Allison and his friends in the town of Lubbock, Texas. It was a long time ago, when Dwight D Eisenhower was just beginning his second term as President of the United States.

Allison, who died aged 82, was the Crickets batsman, who shot to worldwide prominence in 1957, when their song That’ll Be the Day became one of the defining hits of the first rock’n’roll era. He had co-written it with Buddy Holly, their bespectacled singer and lead guitarist. A year later, Holly left the band to pursue a solo career, and in 1959 he was killed in a plane crash, but his name and that of the band remained inextricably linked through hits such as Peggy Sue, Well. ..All Right and Think It Over. , which Allison co-wrote.

Peggy Sue had originally been titled Cindy Lou, borrowing the name of Holly’s niece, but was renamed at Allison’s request after Peggy Sue Gerron, his occasional girlfriend, whom he was trying to win back.

Released as Holly, it stood out not only for the singer’s gasping delivery, but also for the galloping beat of Allison’s muffled tom-toms, made more exotic by an idea from producer Norman Petty, who lit and turned off the echo chamber from time to time. bars to create a surprisingly unusual drum sound.

In those early days, when he was still a teenager, Allison was always willing to try something unorthodox. On the song Not Fade Away (which he claimed to have co-written, though credit goes to Holly and Petty), he played on a cardboard box to create a stripped-down version of Bo Diddley’s famous beat. On Everyday, he slapped his knees. And on Well…All Right, he only played his cymbals, emphasizing the mood of nostalgic teen reverie.

Son of Louise (née Ferguson) and James, Jerry Ivan Allison was born in Hillsboro, Texas and was known to his friends throughout his life as “JI”. In 1950, after his family had moved to Lubbock, he met Holly at college.

In a world where young white people were expected to follow their parents’ example and listen to country music, Holly and Allison’s generation was fascinated by the rhythm and blues they heard on black radios and by the form hybrid of rockabilly, with the recordings of Bill Haley and Elvis Presley acting as a guide to doing it on their own.

As he took his first steps in music, Allison admired the extravagant big band style of Gene Krupa, the most famous drummer of the time, and the driving work of Charles Connor in the group’s incendiary appearance Little Richard during the movie The Girl Can’. t Help him. “Buddy and I must have watched this movie seven or eight times,” he recalled.

Two years younger than Holly, he was still in high school when he joined the singer in 1955. The group was originally a trio, completed by a string bass player – first Larry Welborn, then Don Guess , and finally Joe B Mauldin. Later, a rhythm guitarist was added, Sonny Curtis preceding and then replacing Niki Sullivan.

What set them apart – and made a vital impression on young John Lennon and Paul McCartney – was their determination to write their own songs.

The success of That’ll Be the Day, recorded at Petty’s studio in Clovis, New Mexico, was followed by hits with Peggy Sue, Maybe Baby and Oh Boy. Some were issued as Holly, others as by the Crickets. Allison also had a minor solo hit, under the name Ivan, with the new song Real Wild Child. Early shows across the United States soon led to bigger things and a 25-date tour of Britain in the spring of 1958 included an appearance on ITV’s Sunday Night at the London Palladium.

After Holly’s decision to move to New York and form a new band, the Crickets continued for a time with other lead singers. In 1959, Allison and Curtis moved to Los Angeles, where they worked as session musicians. Allison can be heard on Everly Brothers’ Til I Kissed You and Eddie Cochran’s Cut Across Shorty. The Crickets returned to the UK in 1960, unbilled, as a backing band for the Everly Brothers, and in 1964 under their own name. In 1970, Allison made an appearance on Eric Clapton’s first solo album. The Crickets were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.

His portrayal of a seemingly unsympathetic character in the 1978 film The Buddy Holly Story, on which he was not consulted, greatly displeased him. In 1987, he appeared in The Real Buddy Holly Story, co-produced by McCartney. He was the only surviving member of the Crickets throughout the band’s existence, which ended with a 2016 farewell concert at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, where Holly appeared the night of her death. .

He married Peggy Sue Gerron in 1958, when he was 19 and she was 18. They divorced in 1964. Allison is survived by his second wife, Joanie.

Jerry Ivan Allison, drummer and songwriter, born August 31, 1939; died on August 22, 2022

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