What Happened To The Crickets After Buddy Holly Died?

What Happened To The Crickets After Buddy Holly Died

When Buddy Holly was killed in a plane crash on February 3, 1959, he changed the course of rock and roll. But in addition to the iconic singer and songwriter, his band – The Crickets – also died. What happened to them?

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History of The Crickets

The Crickets were an American rock and roll band from Lubbock, Texas, formed by singer-songwriter Buddy Holly in January 1957. Their first hit record, “That’ll Be the Day“, released in May 1957, peaked at number three on the Billboard Top 100 chart on September 16th, 1957. The sleeve of their first album, The “Chirping” Crickets, shows the band line-up at the time: Holly on lead vocals and lead guitar, Niki Sullivan on rhythm guitar, Jerry Allison on drums, and Joe B. Mauldin on bass. The Crickets helped set the template for subsequent rock bands, such as the Beatles, with their guitar-bass-drums line-up, performing their own self-written material. After Holly’s death in 1959, the band continued to tour and record into the 1960s and beyond with other band members through to the 21st century.

person holding vinyl records


The Crickets Band Members

  • Jerry Allison – drums (1957–2016, died 2022)
  • Buddy Holly – lead vocals, guitar (1957–1958, died 1959)
  • Waylon Jennings – bass (1959, died 2002)
  • Joe B. Mauldin – bass (1957–1960, 1976–2015; his death)
  • Niki Sullivan – guitar (1957–1958, died 2004)
  • Sonny Curtis – guitar (1958–1960, 1962–1985, 1994–2016); lead vocals (1962–1985, 1994–2016)
  • Earl Sinks – lead vocals (1958–1960, died 2017)
  • Tommy Allsup – guitar (1959, died 2017)
  • Jerry Naylor – lead vocals (1961–1964, died 2019)
  • Glen Hardin – keyboards (1962–1972, 1999–2016); keyboard bass (1962–1972, 2015–2016)
  • Gordon Payne – lead vocals, guitar (1985–1994)

Controversy Before Holly’s Death

Little over a year after the Cricket’s formation, rhythm guitarist Niki Sullivan left the band to return to educational pursuits. The remaining trio (Buddy Holly on lead guitar and vocals, Jerry Allison on drums, and Joe Mauldin on bass) continued touring and making television appearances.

That is until Holly moved to New York after breaking with producer Norman Petty—who had marketed the group under two separate names, Buddy Holly for solo vocal tracks and The Crickets for tracks with backing vocals. Allison and Mauldin returned to their homes in Lubbock, Texas, and continued recording songs as The Crickets with Sonny Curtis and vocalist Earl Sinks joining the band. Holly toured under his own name with Carl Bunch, Tommy Allsup, and later Waylon Jennings.
Though the two separate acts planned to meet up again after Holly’s winter tour, they never got the chance.

grayscale photo of people holding assorted music instruments

Why was Buddy Holly’s band called The Crickets?

Holly had already registered for another company under his own name, so he needed a new name for her group to avoid legal trouble. The Crickets drew inspiration from other bands named after the birds, as John Goldrosen recalls in his book Buddy Holly His Life and Music. They were considering bug-centric names, unbeknownst to the Bronx R&B vocal group the Crickets, who later recorded for Jay-Dee. They almost chose the name Beetles; Years later, the Beatles chose their name in part to pay homage to the Crickets.


When did the crickets break up?

1958 references to “Buddy Holly and the Crickets” began to apply in the worst possible way. Holly’s shifting and expanding musical interests, coupled with her move to New York and her marriage to Maria Elena Santiago, began a rift between Holly and her bandmates in the months just before Holly’s death in a plane crash on February 3, 1959.


What happened after the crickets break up?

Jerry Allison became the de facto leader of the band, and they soon formed a quartet with Sonny Curtis on guitar and Earl Sinks as lead singer. In 1959, they still failed to make the list by backing “Love’s Made a Fool of You” directed and produced by Norman Petty with “Someone, Someone”.

Their next serious attack on the charts – a version of Curtis’ cut version of “I Fought the Law” for Coral Records – disappeared without a trace in 1959, and the “More Than I Can Say” rendition failed to find an audience for them, Bobby Vee (and, by extension, for Curtis as its composer).

They recorded a handful of singles for Coral Records and later signed to Liberty Records with Jerry Naylor on the lead singer spot (sometimes they closed with Curtis), in addition to recording with Bobby Vee-like Buddy Holly.

The band recorded for Liberty for four years, from 1961 to 1965, and even made versions of several Beatles songs, but failed to do “My Little Girl” and “Please Don’t Ever Change“, with the exception of a couple of minor hits.

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One of Naylor’s successors, David Box, died in a plane crash in 1964. They enjoyed lasting success in the UK, where they made headlines on shows and served as a backing band for the Everly Brothers. The band even appeared in two jukebox films on both sides of the Atlantic, in England for Just for Fun (1963) (“My Little”). Girl” and “Teardrops Feel Like Rain“) and The Girls on the Beach (1965). ) in America (doing “La Bamba”). In the late ’60s, while Allison was in the lead role, Mauldin quit music; he and Curtis also worked as session musicians, and Curtis had great success in the early ’70s as the composer of The Mary Tyler Moore Show’s theme song, “Love Is All Around.”



Who was the lead singer of The Crickets?

Earl Sinks

What happened to Buddy Holly’s Crickets?

The Crickets, with vocalist Earl Sinks, went on performing after Holly’s death.

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