Retro Dee is a regular contributor to The Grooveyard’s website, writing about music, fashion and other trends of the 1950s. Check out her blog, Retro Dee’s Guide to the Best Era Ever here, and her column here every Wednesday.
Hi folks it’s Retro Dee and it’s Buddy Holly month at Retro Dee’s Guide to the Best Era Ever!
For the month of September, all the posts on my blog will be Buddy Holly-related. Yes, ALL of them… Well, except for maybe one or two.
Anyhow. Welcome to this edition of “Musical Misconceptions”. Today’s topic is about one of the most beloved classic songs of all time, “Peggy Sue”.
So what could be misunderstood about Peggy Sue?
How many of you out there thought Peggy Sue was Buddy Holly’s girlfriend? Come on, let’s see a show of hands…
If you’re raising your hand, don’t be embarrassed. I thought so too. From the moment I knew the song existed (and I can’t even remember when I heard it first, as is the case with most classic songs) I got an image of a pretty blonde girl, a cheerleader perhaps– the popular gal that all girls want to be.
And I thought, of course, that she was Buddy Holly’s girlfriend… or at the very least, his love interest, because why would a song lie?
Sometimes, however, songs are not what they seem. And that’s okay. Like actors playing roles, singers sometimes sing about things that aren’t about them. It’s also normal for the public to formulate a picture in their minds of what the singer is saying.
Peggy Sue Gerron was exactly as you’d picture in the song: pretty, blonde, popular… a sweetheart of Lubbock High. But instead of dating Buddy Holly, she actually dated (and later married) Jerry Allison, The Crickets drummer.
So why did Buddy Holly sing about Jerry Allison’s girlfriend?
In 1957, Buddy was writing a song called “Cindy Lou”. When he told his friend and band mate Jerry Allison about the song, Jerry said, “Can we change it to ‘Peggy Sue’?”
And Buddy replied, “I don’t care.”
From there, the girl’s name in the song was changed from “Cindy Lou” to “Peggy Sue”.
Just like that!
Jerry Allison was pleased to surprise Peggy Sue with the song during The Crickets tour in Sacramento, CA. in 1957. And even more pleased, was Peggy Sue.
Another misconception about the song was that Jerry Allison wrote it. He has been interviewed saying that although his name is on the record, he didn’t write it: “Buddy did.”
After “Peggy Sue” became such popular hit, Peggy Sue’s name was mentioned in several other songs including “Splish Splash” by Bobby Darin and “Dee Dee Dinah” by Frankie Avalon.
And, of course, is the follow-up song to “Peggy Sue”, “Peggy Sue Got Married”.
“Peggy Sue Got Married” was recorded by Buddy Holly in his Greenwich Village apartment in late 1958. Sadly, he died before it could be released. It’s a beautiful song, as I’ve mentioned many times before in previous posts.
The movie of the same name came out in 1986, based on the title of the song.
But nothing will be like the original “Peggy Sue” which was released on September 20, 1957 and has been a beloved classic for 60+ years.
Voting continues in the eighth annual Great 88 surveys. Pick your 10 favorite songs from 1958 and 1956 here daily. A full first round schedule and additional information can be found here. You can also find the results of earlier surveys in the Great 88 section.
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