Buddy Holly not fading away, 50 years after death

Tue Jan 27, 2009 9:03am EST
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By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - One snowy night 50 years ago, Buddy Holly took off on a small plane and died a few minutes later when it crashed in an Iowa field.

A tragic icon was born, but so was a half-century of litigation and finger-pointing. The latest legal showdown has been going on for 15 years as Holly's family chases alleged unpaid royalties from his Universal Music Group label.

"They've cheated us," Holly's older brother Larry told Reuters. Universal won the initial case, he said, but the family is appealing. He later declined to elaborate, suspecting that he was speaking to "an agent" for the label. A Universal official did not reply to a request for comment.

But the parties have made up, at least temporarily, to collaborate on a pair of multi-disc CD sets that will be released on January 27, a week before the anniversary of the February 3, 1959, crash that also claimed Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson.

The three-CD "Memorial Collection" boasts all of Holly's hits -- including "That'll Be The Day," "Not Fade Away," "Peggy Sue" and "Rave On"-- as well as seven recordings previously unreleased in the United States.

The two-CD "Down The Line - Rarities" features home recordings dating back to when Holly was 14, widely bootlegged undubbed versions, alternate takes and informal solo tapes.

Some of the recordings -- such as "Think It Over" and "Fool's Paradise" -- have been stripped of overdubs that were added by Norman Petty, arguably the No. 1 villain in the Buddy Holly story.

Petty was an independent producer who owned the Clovis, N.M., studio where Holly and his band the Crickets recorded most of their tunes between 1956 and 1958. In addition to taking control of Holly's career and finances, he added his name to the songwriting credits -- a dubious but not uncommon practice in those days.   Continued...