Buddy Holly's 'Peggy Sue' passes away at 78 years

Peggy Sue Gerron was briefly married to Jerry Allison, Buddy Holly's drummer and gave her name to Buddy Holly and The Crickets' greatest hit 'Peggy Sue'.

                            Buddy Holly's 'Peggy Sue' passes away at 78 years

Peggy Sue Gerron, the inspiration for Buddy Holly's 1957 hit song 'Peggy Sue', has passed away aged 78, BBC reports. 

According to the report, Gerron died on Monday at University Medical Center in Lubbock, Texas, as revealed by spokesperson Eric Finley. The family gave the hospital permission to confirm the death, but asked that no additional information be released, Finley said on Tuesday.

Gerron and Buddy Holly were alumni of Lubbock High and met somewhere in the mid-fifties when Holly was just on the rise to fame and she was still a high school student. As Gerron recalled in a 2013 interview with BBC, she first met Holly accidentally, while he was running late for a gig and accidentally knocked her over.

“He ran over to me, guitar in one hand, amp in the other, and said, ‘I don’t have time to pick you up, but you sure are pretty’, before he ran off,” Gerron told the BBC in 2013. “So another girl came and helped me pick up my books and she said, ‘Do you know who that was? That was Buddy Holly.'”

Peggy Sue Gerron arrives for the opening night of 'Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story' at the Lyric Theatre on February 3, 2009 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Gaye Gerard/Getty Images)
Peggy Sue Gerron arrives for the opening night of 'Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story' at the Lyric Theatre on February 3, 2009 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Gaye Gerard/Getty Images)

Interestingly, Peggy Sue went on to date and finally marry Jerry Allison, Buddy Holly's drummer from his backing band, The Crickets.

Several weeks after her first brush with Buddy, Gerron was reportedly on a date with Allison when they ran into the 'That'll Be The Day' hit-maker.  “[Buddy Holly] started laughing, Jerry asked him what was so funny," Gerron recalled in the interview with BBC. "And he said ‘I’ve already overwhelmed your Peggy Sue.'”

'Peggy Sue' is one of Holly's greatest hits. It was recorded and released as a single by Holly in early July of 1957 and went to number three on the Billboard Top 100 chart the same year. It is ranked number 194 on Rolling Stone magazine's 2004 list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum even included the song on its list of the "Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll".

There are several stories behind how the song got its title. The most widely known version states that the track was first titled 'Cindy Lou,' after Holly’s niece, but Allison convinced his bandmate to change it in order to impress Gerron.

A less popular tale talks about how Holly changed the title as a peace offering to Allison after their producer, Norman Petty, forced him to play in the studio’s reception room because his snare was too loud.

Gerron first heard Holly and the Crickets play 'Peggy Sue' at a concert in a packed school auditorium. “I was just delighted, I thought it was a fascinating song,” she told the BBC. “It’s really hard to stand still when you’re listening to ‘Peggy Sue.'”

Buddy Holly went on to record a sequel to the song, titled "Peggy Sue Got Married,” and recorded a demonstration version in his New York City apartment in December 1958, accompanied only by himself on guitar.

But before the song could be released the rock and roll legend tragically died in the infamous plane crash that is now referred to as "The Day That Music Died," as made famous by the Don McLean hit 'American Pie'. 

The tape was discovered after his death and was "enhanced" for commercial release, with the addition of backing vocals and an electric guitar track that drowns out Holly's playing and almost drowns out his voice. The rarely heard original version was released on a vinyl collection, 'The Complete Buddy Holly' and was later played over the opening credits of the 1986 Kathleen Turner film 'Peggy Sue Got Married'.

Gerron and Allison divorced in 1964 and she moved to California to attend Pasadena Junior College. According to her website, she remarried there and had two children, helped her husband set up a plumbing company and claims she became the first licensed woman plumber in California.

Gerron returned to Lubbock in 1995 to care for her mother and stayed there for the rest of her life. While there, she became a ham radio enthusiast and in 2008, she published her memoir, 'Whatever Happened to Peggy Sue?'

"Peggy Sue was always just plain good to people," her friend Bryan Edwards told the  Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Edwards knew her as a ham radio user, and said they would have an annual radio event "so that people would get on a certain frequency and talk to Peggy Sue". "That was a great thrill to those people to talk to her," he said.

“I think they have me frozen in time, I think when most people think of me, it’s as a young woman frozen in an era that has long passed,” Gerron said during her 2013 BBC interview. “But it hasn’t limited me. You have to be you, and I couldn’t stand up and say, well, no, that’s not me.”