That'll Be The Day

Album: That'll Be The Day (1957)
Charted: 1 1


  • Holly had been kicking around his home town in Lubbock, Texas trying to write a hit song for his small rockabilly band since he had attended an Elvis Presley gig at his High School some time in 1955. His band in those days consisted of him on lead vocals and guitar, Jerry Allison on the drums and Joe B. Maudlin on upright bass. He and Jerry decided to get together and go see The Searchers, a Western movie staring John Wayne. In the movie, Wayne keeps replying, "That'll be the day," every time another character in the film predicts or proclaims something will happen when he felt it was not likely to happen. The phrase stuck in Jerry's mind, and when they were hanging out at Jerry's house one night, Buddy looked at Jerry and said that it sure would be nice if they could record a hit song. Jerry replied with, "That'll be the day," imitating John Wayne in the film. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Tim - Costa Mesa, CA
  • Holly and his band The Three Tunes recorded this in Nashville in 1956, but Decca records didn't like the result and refused to release it. A year later, Holly re-recorded it with The Crickets in a studio in Clovis, New Mexico owned by his new producer, Norman Petty. Backup vocalists were brought in and the key was lowered to fit Holly's voice a little better. This version became a huge hit and made Holly a star that summer.
  • Norman Petty took a writing credit on this because he produced it. This meant Holly and Allison had to share royalties with him.
  • This was Holly's first hit, but it was credited to The Crickets, Holly's band. They worked with two record labels, with one releasing Holly's songs as The Crickets and the other as Buddy Holly. Both labels were subsidiaries of Decca Records.
  • This inspired the British 1973 movie of the same name, about a young man with dreams of becoming a rock star.
  • This was the first song John Lennon learned to play on guitar. American rock stars like Holly and Little Richard were a big influence on The Beatles.
  • The movie that inspired Holly and Allison to write this also provided the name for the British group The Searchers in 1964.
  • When this became a hit, Decca records released Holly's earlier version as well.
  • "That'll Be The Day" was the first song John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison recorded together. In 1958, when they were still known as the Quarrymen, they pooled their money, recorded the song at a local studio, and pressed one copy on a 78rpm disc, which they shared. The disc ended up in the possession of Duff Lowe, the piano player in group. In the early '80s, he sold it to McCartney; it was first heard in a 1985 documentary on Buddy Holly, and was released in 1995 on the Anthology 1 collection.
  • Linda Ronstadt released her version as the lead single from her 1976 album Hasten Down the Wind. This came at the suggestion of her producer, Peter Asher, who recorded the song completely live, just as Holly's version was done in the days before multitracking. The song went to #11 in the US and marked a shift for Ronstadt away from country rock.

    On this version, listen for the guitar solo - Waddy Wachtel played the first four bars, then Andrew Gold took over for the last four. Wachtel's performance helped raise his profile in the Los Angeles music scene, where he soon became one of the top session players.
  • In the US, a version by the Everly Brothers reached #111 in 1965; Pure Prairie League took it to #106 in 1976.

Comments: 29

  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenI first heard a reference to this song when "American Pie" came out in 1971. I was 10, had never heard of Buddy Holly and had no idea what "this'll be the day that I die" or "the day the music died" meant. My dad explained it all to me and I soon became a huge fan of Holly and his groundbreaking songs.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn August 5, 1957, the Philadelphia-based teen-age dance television program 'American Bandstand' goes national when it airs for the first time on ABC-TV network...
    The first record played was "That'll Be The Day" by the Crickets, at the time the record was at #39 on Billboard's Top 100 chart, one month later on September 8th* it would peak at #1 {for 1 week} on Billboard's Best Seller in Stores chart...
    * The day before on September 7th, Buddy Holly, born Charles Hardin Holley, celebrated his 21st birthday.
  • Jennifur Sun from RamonaHarold, that is the first version of Words Of Love I ever heard, love George's guitar on it.
  • Harold Benson from Gainesville, Florida UsaLet's not forget the beautiful arrangement and performance the Beatles also did of the Buddy Holly song "Words of Love" on the US Beatles Album "Beatles VI", key of A major. Amazing open harmony by Paul and George appears on this song, with John going about as low in his vocal range as we've ever heard him! Thanks for this writeup and your amazing comments!
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn November 11th 1976, Linda Ronstadt performed live for the first time in the United Kingdom when she appeared at the Hammersmith Odeon* in, London, England...
    At the time her covered version of "That'll Be the Day" was at #35 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; three weeks earlier on October 17th, 1976 it peaked at #11 {for 2 weeks}...
    Two days later she appeared at the New Victoria Theater, which is also in London...
    And exactly three years later on Nov. 11th, 1979 she performed at a presidential campaign fund raiser for California governor Jerry Brown; the concert was at the San Diego Sports Arena, and also appearing were the Eagles and Chicago...
    * Twelve months earlier on Nov. 18th, 1975 Bruce Springsteen also made his UK debut at the Hammersmith Odeon.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn September 11th 1957, Alan Freed's 'The Biggest Show of Stars For 1957' concert tour played the Cincinnati Gardens in Cincinnati, Ohio...
    Appearing in the concert were The Crickets, The Bobettes, The Everly Brothers, Bubby Knox, Frankie Lyman, Eddie Cochran, and Chuck Berry...
    At the time "That'll Be the Day" was at #3 on the Billboard's Top 100 chart; "Mr. Lee" at #7, "Bye, Bye Love" at #10, "Hula Love" at #21, "Goody Goody" at #24, "Drive-In Show" at #82, and "School Days" at #98...
    The rest of the bill featured Fats Domino, Paul Anka, Clyde McPhatter, LaVern Baker, The Drifters, Johnnie & Joe, the Spaniels, and Jimmy Bowen...
    I was 12 years old at the time and would have loved to been in one of the Cinny Gardens' 10,210 seats.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn August 26th 1957, Buddy Holly & the Crickets performed "That'll Be the Day" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    At the time the song was at #5 on both Billboard’s Top 100 chart and Billboard's Best Sellers chart; two weeks later it would peak at #1 {for 1 week} on the Best Sellers chart...
    Three weeks earlier on August 5th, 1957 Dick Clark debut as the host of 'American Bandstand' and the first song he played was "That'll Be the Day" {he was 26 years old at the time, and Buddy was 12 days away from turning 21 years old}...
    One year and two months later on October 28th, 1958 Buddy Holly was once again on 'Bandstand', it would be his last appearance on national TV, he performed "It's So Easy" and "Heartbeat".
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn August 16th 1957, the Crickets began a six-night engagement at the famed Apollo Theater in Harlem...
    At the time they're debut record, "That'll Be The Day", was at #7 on Billboard's Best Sellers chart, and twenty-three days later on September 9th, 1957 it would peak at #1 {for 1 week} on the Best Sellers chart...
    And on Billboard's R&B Best Sellers chart the song was at #3 on the first day of their appearance at the Apollo, the week before it peaked at #2 on the R&B Best Sellers chart {the #1 record was "Diana" by Paul Anka}...
    In the United Kingdom on November 1st, 1957 the song reached #1 {for 3 weeks} on the New Musical Express chart; and the song it bumped out of the top spot, "Diana" by Paul Anka {it had been #1 for 9 weeks}...
    R.I.P. Charles Hardin 'Buddy' Holley {1936 - 1959}.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn August 15th 1976, "That'll Be The Day" by Linda Ronstadt entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart on position #71; and on October 17th, 1976 it peaked at #11 {for 2 weeks} and spent 16 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #2 on the Canadian RPM 100 Singles chart...
    She made the Top 100 two more times with covered versions of Buddy Holly songs; "It Doesn't Matter Anymore" {#47 in 1975} and "It's So Easy" {#5 in 1977}...
    Linda Maria Ronstadt celebrated her 68th birthday last month on July 15th, 2014...
    My God bless and watch over Ms. Ronstadt.
  • Bob from Pepperell, MaI'm a Buddy Holly fanatic. I was 14 the day the music died. A friend told me about the crash while we were waiting for the school bus that day. I never forgot that day. It's the first thing I think of every February 3rd. I have just about everything he ever recorded, including all those outtake versions now available on-line. Check them out. That'll be the Day was my first 45. My dad put it on our Christmas tree for me, with a few other records.
    I didn't read it above, but for some reason, That'll Be The Day on Brunswick , by The Crickets was the "B" side. The "A" side was Looking For Someone To Love".
    - Libb, Pepperell Ma
  • Laura from El Paso, TxLinda Ronstadt's cover of this song is awesome. Much better than ole Buddy Holly
  • Viktor from Vänersborg, SwedenThis was the first song The Beatles recorded in 1958, then they were known as the Quarrymen.
  • Viktor from Vänersborg, SwedenThis was the first song The Beatles recorded in 1958, then they were known as the Quarrymen.
  • Mike from Franklin County, PaIn the movie "The Buddy Holly Story" , it showed the three boys of The Crickets ( Buddy was the lead singer )trying to record this song in a stereo . Buddy wanted it to be a rock song for the younger generation ( the teens ) to dance to and have a good time ; but the record producer wanted it to be more like a country and western song . So when the three began to record the song again , they decided to joke around by adding the line from the gospel song "Bringing In The Sheaves" , instead of saying the line "That'll be the day when I die". The line they used was , "We shall come rejoicing , Bring in the sheaves" . Later on in the studeo , Buddy got mad at the producer for something he said ; and punched the guy out. The producer then said ( I think ) , "This is the last time you boys will ever record another album in here !" As for the part about Waylon Jennings , he was a backup guitar player for Buddy . Before Buddy , Big Bopper and Richie Valens got on the plane ; Waylon gaved up his seat on the plane to the Big Bopper . Buddy knew there was a snow storm that Febuary night , and also knew that the bus they used for touring didn't have any heat ; So he said to Waylon , "I hope you make it through the storm in one piece ." Waylon was just joking around with Buddy and said , "I hope your plane crash ." Soon after they said their goodbye and the plane took off ; it crashed in an open field . All three aboard the plane , including the pilot , were killed on impact . It wasn't until the next morning that all three bodies were found and identified .
  • Mike from Hueytown , AlGreat Song ! Buddy Holly was the best of his era. He left us way too soon.
  • David from Madrid, SpainFoghat covered this on their album "Energized", from 1974
  • John from Houston, TxAn old friend of mine Larry Wellborn played upright bass on this song as well as "Lookin' for Someone to Love." He and Buddy played together in a band called "Buddy, Bob and Larry" (Subtitled Western and BeeBop). The Bob was Bob Montgomery who went on to become a Nashville producer and made the Statler Brothers what they became. Larry continued to play in clubs and sessions in Houston Texas in the 70s and 80s. He would have been a member of the Crickets only he was still in high school when Buddy hit the road and his parents wouldn't let him go. So he traded positions with Joe B. Maudlin who played lead guitar with a Lubbock group called the "Royal Teens." Had Buddy lived it is a sure thing that they would have reunited.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScI've heard that same version Homer, didn't know the record was a 78.
  • Tony from Topeka, KsThe title of this was referenced in Don McLean's "American Pie"... I'm sure you can guess where it is...
  • Alan from Grande Prairie, Alberta, CanadaAmazing career for a short 18 months and a catalogue of I believe 46 songs. We'll never know what direction he would have taken rock, but like James Dean his legend grows with the passing of time.
  • Teresa from Mechelen, BelgiumBuddy Holly was a real talent, no matter what song,it was always very good. The cover of Linda Rondstadt of this song and "It's so easy"
    can be considered as a tribute to this great singer.
  • Rick from San Juan, United States"That'll Be The Day" was one of the songs featured in the 1973 soundtrack of "American Graffiti".
  • Rick from San Juan, United StatesLinda Ronstadt's hits included cover versions of "It Doesn't Matter Anymore" (1975), "That'll Be The Day" (1976), "It's So Easy" (1977).
  • Ross from Independence, MoThis is #38 in Rolling Stone's list of 500 greatest songs.
  • Cynthia from Phoenix, Azhe was and still truly is a legend and a great influence to many up and coming guitarist like myself his words can touch ur soul like nothin in the world his songs are just most definetly some of the greatest in the world.
  • Clarence from Brunswick, GaNot many people know, but Waylon Jennings used to ply bass for Buddy Holly.
  • Homer from Versailles, IlThis song appears on the first Beatles Anthology, from a 78 RPM (ask your granparents...) recorded in the late fifties.
  • Alex from Syracuse, NyPeggy Sue, It Doesn't Matter Anyomore, Rock Around With Ollie Vee, Lookin' For Someone To Love, Everyday, Tell Me How, Rave On, Well...Allright, just to mane a few more
  • Ladonna from Harrison, OhBuddy Holly Had a buncha songs:
    Maybe Baby
    Oh Boy
    True Loves Ways
    Raining in My Heart
    Ro name just a few.
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