An interesting side note to The Buddy Holly Story is Gary Busey had previously been involved in a failed attempt at making a movie about the life of Buddy Holly, Three-Sided Coin, in which Busey was going to play the part of The Crickets drummer Jerry Allison. Three-Sided Coin was scrapped due to some legal wranglings over the rights to Holly's life story. That failed movie, in which Busey was working with the original Crickets drummer, gave Busey inside information about Buddy Holly. This must have really helped Busey in his portrayal of Buddy Holly, since this is one of the finest performances of an actor portraying a rock and roll star you are likely to see. Charles Martin Smith and Don Stoud also help in adding to the realism of the film's musical performances, by doing their own live singing and playing during the filming of the movie.
The Buddy Holly Story follows Holly from his teen years in Lubbock, Texas, to his eventual stardom and, of course, to the final tragic plane crash which took the life of not only Holly, but also Richie Valens and The Big Bopper. Besides Richie Valens (Gilbert Melgar) and The Big Bopper (Gailard Sartain), the film also features Eddie Cochran (Jerry Zaremba), King Curtis (Craig White) and in a surprise, at least to me, comedian Paul Mooney is terrific portraying Sam Cooke.
I first watched The Buddy Holly Story years ago and was amazed at the time by Busey's portrayal of Holly. When re-watching the film recently, Busey is still great, but the film itself isn't a good as I remembered it. Even though Holly died at the age of 23 and the movie doesn't have a long life to portray, it still had to condense a lot into the 114 minute running time. As with any biopic, events and people have been changed and some of the scenes just don't ring true. If you haven't seen The Buddy Holly Story I still highly recommend the film. Busey has allowed himself to become a punchline for jokes these days, but watching this movie should make you marvel at what he is or at least was capable of.