Buddy Holly at 80: The night the rock 'n' roll legend played Doncaster - PICTURES

American rock 'n' roll superstar Buddy Holly would have been 80 today - and at the height of his fame, the bespectacled singer played in Doncaster.

Wednesday, 7th September 2016, 9:50 am
Updated Wednesday, 7th September 2016, 1:58 pm
Music legend Buddy Holly.

It was on March 17, 1958 that the Fifties legend rocked up at the Gaumont Theatre with his band The Crickets at the height of their fame.

The band performed two shows at the venue and at the time of the concert, had already racked up huge international hits with That’ll Be The Day and Peggy Sue.

The Gaumont as it would have looked at the time of Buddy Holly's visit.

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Tragically, less than a year after their Doncaster date, on February 3, 1959 Holly and fellow singers Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper lost their lives in a plane crash, dubbed The Day The Music Died.

At the time, Holly and his band, consisting of Waylon Jennings, Tommy Allsup, and Carl Bunch, were playing on the Winter Dance Party tour across the USA with rising artists Valens and The Big Bopper joining the tour as well.

The long journeys between venues on board the cold, uncomfortable tour buses adversely affected the performers, with cases of flu and even frostbite.

After stopping at Clear Lake to perform, and frustrated by such conditions, Holly decided to charter a plane to reach their next venue in Moorhead, Minnesota. Richardson, who had flu, swapped places with Jennings taking the latter's seat on the plane, while Allsup lost his seat to Valens on a coin toss.

Late rocker Alvin Stardust with the guitar he used to play with Buddy Holly in Doncaster in 1958 and which was signed by the star.

Soon after take-off, late at night and in poor, wintry weather conditions, the pilot lost control of the light aircraft, a Beechcraft Bonanza, which subsequently crashed into a cornfield, leaving no survivors. Holly was just 22.

The Gaumont show wasn't Holly's only connection with Doncaster.

The singer, who was born on September 7, 1936, jammed alongside Alvin Stardust backstage at the Gaumont ahead of that 1958 show.

The 70s glam rock legend, who died in 2014, revealed ahead of his death the story of the time he met his musical icon - and was given the chance to play alongside him.

A souvenir programme from the 1958 show.

The star, who died at the age of 72 after a short illness, met the American musician when he performed at the town’s Gaumont Cinema in March 1958.

Stardust, then known by his birth name of Bernard Jewry, was given his first guitar on his twelth birthday and he took it on the bus to Doncaster with him to see Buddy Holly and the Crickets.

He talked his way backstage, where Buddy noticed Bernard clinging to the guitar, so he asked him to play for them.

Buddy and the Crickets all joined in, and they jammed to Peggy Sue in their dressing room.

The Gaumont as it would have looked at the time of Buddy Holly's visit.

They had no paper or photos for an autograph, so instead they signed his guitar, which started a collection of autographs on the instrument which was aso signed by the likes of Eddie Cochrane, Gene Vincent, Johnny Kidd, Billy Fury, Joe Brown, Marty Wilde, Bert Weedon, Chuck Berry, Bill Haley, all of The Beatles, and all of The Rolling Stones to make it one of rock’s most treasured items of musical memorabilia.

Later, his hits included My Coo Ca Choo, Jealous Mind and I Feel Like Buddy Holly. He grew up in Mansfield and started playing guitar as a schoolboy.

He signed his first record deal in 1961 as the frontman of Shane Fenton and the Fentones, though the band struggled to get in the charts. In 1973 he signed with Magnet Records and took on the name that would make him famous. My Coo Ca Choo, the debut song under his new guise, peaked at number two in the UK singles chart.

Late rocker Alvin Stardust with the guitar he used to play with Buddy Holly in Doncaster in 1958 and which was signed by the star.
A souvenir programme from the 1958 show.