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The Buddy Holly Story Academy Award Winner! Academy Award Nomination! Academy Award Nomination! 

By Sam Sutherland

Rock historians and hard-core Buddy Holly fans can and do take issue with director Steve Rash's 1978 biopic of the Lubbock, Texas, rocker's life: the script liberally juggles details from Holly's brief but blazing career, replacing producer Norman Petty and Holly's original bassist and drummer with fictionalized composite characters. Yet the core of the film, and the reason it's definitely worth a look and listen, is Gary Busey's lusty performance in the title role, triumphing against what might have seemed miscasting.

The burly, lantern-jawed Busey steps into the lankier, narrow-faced Holly's blue suede shoes and dances off with the movie. At a time when live rock albums thought little of overdubbing mistakes in the studio, director Rash honored Busey's nervy gamble in performing these songs live, singing in his own raw voice and rumbling through his own approximations of Holly's guitar work. What's lost in precise verisimilitude is more than compensated by Busey's conviction and a palpable, almost ecstatic terror as he charges through Holly's wonderful songs before indifferent roller-rink audiences.

Other films have nailed the period more accurately through art direction or script, but Busey's authentic energy gives this movie an emotional veracity that's just right for this chapter in rock history. Still, for musical purposes, go straight to the source, Holly's wonderful recordings

Academy Awards

The Buddy Holly Story received an Academy Award for Music Scoring (Best Adaptation Score; Joe Renzetti) . The Buddy Holly Story also received Academy Awards nominations for Actor (Gary Busey) and Sound (Tex Rudloff, Joel Fein, Curly Thirlwell, Willie Burton).

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Is The Buddy Holly Story one of your favorite movies? What do you remember about it? Share your stories (or your reviews) with the world! (We print the best stories right here!)

Your Memories Shared!

"I am a huge fun of Buddy Holly and I have seen this movie a thousand times.I respect the fact that Busey did his own singing and performing but I believe that Holly was much more serious in his live performings. Also there was a lot of mistakes in the timing. For example I've seen a late sixties Stratocaster and amp in a movie about the fifties and other mistakes."


"Gary was terrific as Buddy Holly. Now, can we please get someone to write a proper script so his son Jake Busey can play in the movie version of The Kurt Cobain Story?"

--Britney Spears



Buy this VHS movie from! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from! (Click here!)Buy this soundtrack from! (Click here!)Rated PGNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Steve Rash

Stars: Gary Busey, Charles Martin Smith, Conrad Janis

Released: May 18, 1978

Availability: DVD VHS CD

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