"That'll Be the Day" is a song written by Buddy Holly and Jerry Allison and recorded by various artists including The Crickets and Linda Ronstadt. It was also the first song to be recorded (just as a demonstration disc) by The Quarrymen, the skiffle group that subsequently became The Beatles. Although Norman Petty was given a co-writing credit on it, he was not actually involved in the composition, but only in the production of this well-known recording.
Background[edit source | edit]
The song had its genesis in a trip to the movies by Holly, Allison and Sonny Curtis in June 1956. The John Wayne film The Searchers was playing. Wayne's frequently-used, world-weary catchphrase, "that'll be the day" inspired the young musicians.
The second recorded version of this song was recorded eight months later, at the Norman Petty studios in Clovis, New Mexico, on February 25, 1957, and issued on Decca's Brunswick label three months later.
Because Holly had signed a recording contract with Decca, he was contractually prohibited from re-recording any of the songs recorded during the 1956 Nashville sessions for five years, even if Decca never released them. To dodge this, producer Norman Petty credited the Crickets as the artist on this new recording of "That'll Be the Day" to shield Buddy from possible legal action. Ironically, Brunswick Records was a subsidiary of Decca Records. Once the cat was out of the bag, Decca re-signed Holly to another of its subsidiaries, Coral Records, so he ended up with two recording contracts. His group efforts would be issued by Brunswick, and his solo recordings would be on Coral.
The re-recorded version of "That'll Be the Day" was released by Brunswick Records on May 27, 1957, and is featured on the debut album by the Crickets, The "Chirping" Crickets, which was issued on November 27, 1957. The song is considered a classic in the rock and roll genre and is listed at #39 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
The version recorded at Bradley’s Barn, Nashville on July 22, 1956 was released as B-side to "Rock Around With Ollie Vee", credited to Buddy Holly, on 2 September 1957 (Decca D30434) and can be found on the 1958 album That'll Be the Day.
The Brunswick single became a number-one hit on the 1957 "Best Sellers in Stores" chart in Billboard magazine. The song also went to number two on Billboard's R&B singles chart. On September 20, 1986 the song appeared on the UK Single Charts at #85, it then came off the charts a week later at #100.
Personnel[edit source | edit]
(February 25, 1957 at Norman Petty Recording Studio)
- Buddy Holly - lead guitar and vocals
- Larry Welborn - bass
- Jerry Allison - drums
- Niki Sullivan - background vocals
- June Clark - background vocals
- Gary Tollett - background vocals
- Ramona Tollett - background vocals
- Buddy Holly - vocals, guitar
- Sonny Curtis - guitar
- Don Guess - bass
- Jerry Allison - drums
Notable cover versions[edit source | edit]
In 1958, the song was the first track ever recorded by The Quarrymen, who later became The Beatles. Their rendition, intended just as a demonstration disc, was issued officially on the Beatles compilation album Anthology 1 in 1995. The one and only 1958 pressing is thought to be one of the world's most valuable records, worth an estimated £100,000  Norman Petty sold the publishing rights to the Buddy Holly catalogue to Paul McCartney in 1979.
It was covered by Bobby Vee on his 1963 LP "I Remember Buddy Holly", Liberty LRP-3336/LST-7336. of note as Bobby Velline(Bobby Vee)and his band performed as the Shadows in The Winter Dance Party tour the day after the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly.
It was covered by The Everly Brothers who released it as a 45 single, Warner Brothers 5611, in 1965. The single reached number 30 on the UK charts.
Paul and Barry Ryan covered the song on their debut album Two of a Kind (Decca LP LK4878, 1967).
Linda Ronstadt covered the song on 1976's Grammy award winning album Hasten Down the Wind. The single made it to number 11 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart and number 27 on the Billboard Country Singles chart. The song is also included on Linda Ronstadt's Greatest Hits (also 1976) and on on the 2011 tribute album, Listen to Me: Buddy Holly.
The La's covered the song in 1986.
Overboard has a rendition on their 2008 album Castaways.
Modest Mouse covered the song for the 2011 album Rave On Buddy Holly.
In 2011, an all-star ensemble performed the song for the PBS special Listen to Me, which included Stevie Nicks, Peter Asher, Chris Isaak, Boz Scaggs, and Graham Nash.