Rave on: The Biography of Buddy Holly

Philip Norman, Author Simon & Schuster $24 (336p) ISBN 978-0-684-80082-0
In the annals of rock and roll, singer and songwriter Buddy Holly remains an elusive legend. He died in a plane crash in 1959, at the age of 22, becoming one of the first rock stars to perish in a tragic, now romanticized, end. Though Holly inspired a Hollywood biopic in the late 1970s, in the prologue to this biography British writer Norman (Shout!) laments the general lack of knowledge about this influential Texas-born musician. Norman's attempt at setting the Holly story straight is a well-researched volume in which Holly comes across as a talented, fun-loving guy who carried the torch for a high-school sweetheart with strong religious convictions; who blindly signed over much of his future income to Norman Perry, his smarmy producer and manager; and who endured grueling concert tours of the U.S. and Britain. The text doubles as a solid history of the early days of rock, and it particularly sparkles when Norman recounts, from personal experience, the British perspective on American music of the 1950s. Despite the author's skill, however, Holly appears to have been too wholesome a character, with too attenuated a life, to keep the text consistently absorbing. Photos not seen by PW. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
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Paperback - 332 pages - 978-0-684-83560-0
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