Holly production shows music lives on

The cast of "Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story" has made a liar out of singer-songwriter Don McLean.

Contrary to McLean's 1970s' hit "American Pie," the music didn't die Feb. 2, 1959, when the chart-topping Holly perished in a fiery plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa.

The truth is, it's eternally suspended in time in the hearts of old beboppers and young rock 'n' rollers � many of whom filled the seats Friday night at the Lied Center in the hope of hearing the hiccupping lyrics of "Peggy Sue" and "That'll Be the Day."

They were not disappointed, and by the end of the 2 1/2-hour musical revue the house was on its feet, clapping and singing to the fast-paced "Oh, Boy."

Erik Hayden's portrayal of Buddy Holly clearly carried the production. Hayden, who received his theatrical training in New York City, captured Holly's innocence and drive, while re-creating his physical appearance, the range of his voice and the style of his guitar playing.

"Buddy" got off to a somewhat labored start as the foundation of Holly's career was laid: his first appearance with The Crickets on country radio station KDAV in Lubbock, Tex.; his recording contract with Decca Records in Nashville, Tenn.; and the group's all-night recording session with Norman Petty in Clovis, N.M.

The tempo changed when an Apollo Theatre singer, played by Toni Malone, came on-stage and unleashed a tornadic swirl of blues. Malone, who has performed with Patti LaBelle, Aretha Franklin, Gloria Estevan, Gladys Knight, Barry White and Neil Diamond, started a crescendo that continued to swell until the final curtain dropped.

Also of note were Eric Sosa, who played the hip-gyrating Latino heart-throb Ritchie Valens, and David Lee Jones, a tenor sax player who raved on during a set simulating the final performances of Holly, Valens and the Big Bopper at the Winter Dance Party in Clear Lake.

Holly's influence can be seen in the musicians who followed him: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, The Hollies, Paul Anka and countless other singers and songwriters.

Holly was a perfectionist who wanted to make music that was innovative and timeless. No doubt he has surpassed even his wildest dreams.

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