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Rave On: The Biography of Buddy Holly

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  269 ratings  ·  31 reviews
Drawing on interviews with almost everyone who ever associated with Holly, including his widow, a biography creates a vivid picture of a young man who took the American music scene by storm and then died suddenly in a tragic plane crash. 25,000 first printing.
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published September 18th 1996 by Simon & Schuster (first published September 13th 1996)
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Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Besides being a fan of Holly's music - though his career was a regrettably brief two years, there are more than a dozen of his rockabilly-style (that pleasing blend of R&B and country-western) songs I will enjoy until I draw my last breath - I think I also dove into Rave On for similar reasons that I read books about John and Bobby Kennedy: simply but sincerely wanting to believe that, had their lives not been abruptly cut short, they would have really amazed us with their further work.

Norman do
Oct 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I admit I have a big bias when it comes to anything that concerns Buddy Holly being the fan I am. Having seen the stage play and movie, I thought I knew a lot about Buddy Holly, but this book completely destroyed those and threw me into the real world of Buddy. You get to see the good,bad,happy, and sad life that was Buddy's short visit to us. This author did a excellent job of researching everybodies point of view who got to know Buddy. I am going to make it a point of mine to get my own copy o ...more
Sep 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, and Buddy Holly - just tragic and all three of them were brilliant. I also love the thought of him in New York going to all the jazz clubs before he passed away. If he lived he would have made MORE great music. The guy just had that 'genius' element in his DNA.

A very well researched biography on the man. And again, it's heartbraking. Like the Gene Vincent bio, I just wanted to cry in the end.

My dudes, I am near tears. This is easily the best biography I have ever read.

Since discovering Buddy Holly’s music at the age of 16 thanks to my 11th grade Music History class in early 2015, I have said time and time again how grossly underrated Buddy’s music — and Buddy himself — truly is. I am 20 years old, turn 21 this September (just a few days before Buddy’s birthday), and among my generation, names like The Beatles and Elvis Presley are still highly recognized and iconic (which is
May 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As I read Philip Norman's account of Buddy Holly's life, I thought I'd be depressed through the whole thing...but surprisingly, I wasn't. Norman's biography really shined a light on who Holly was as a private person rather than just the rock icon with horn rimmed glasses. Although he was by no means perfect, he was kind, generous, optimistic, and a musical genius whose work endures even today. Now when I listen to his music, I have so much more appreciation for the beautiful person behind it. ...more
Mar 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, music
This biography has plenty of great information about Buddy Holly's life, but to get that information you'll have to deal with the author.

And by that I mean you have to slog through overblown claims, sloppy (and unnecessary) argumentation, and a sadly common perspective that treats the work of black musicians as source material, or raw material, that is later perfected by white musicians. For instance, Norman claims that Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly are "the two seminal figures of fifties rock '
Sep 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I just finished to read this book and I'm crying. I love it. But obviously it's so sad. ...more
Martin Jones
This was a comprehensive and well-written account of a central figure in the history of modern popular music. The book was particularly good when it came to describing Buddy Holly’s ambivalent relationship with the music scene of his time. Rock music was only a short step away from devil worship for many people in the 1950s. We see Buddy, the dutiful son of a religiously conservative Texan family, walking a tight rope between the expectations of his particular culture, and his desire to explore ...more
Jeff Wilson
Dec 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Touching account of the life and tragic death of the original Rock and Roll Star.
Jun 05, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
After my mom died I got really into Buddy Holly. Or, rather, Buddy Holly just sort of showed up in my life all of a sudden. I don't know. I can't realy explain it without sounding like a complete nut, so I'll skip the details. Lets just say I freaked out and began to listen to the bespectacled rocker's music religiously, eagerly seeking out B-sides and rarities; anything, basically that he had touched. That hiccuppy croon of his was like a cool cool balm to my weary soul. Those three-chord tremo ...more
Addison A
Feb 27, 2017 rated it did not like it
Not a fan.
Nov 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: rock-n-roll, death, 50s
I've been a Buddy Holly fan for years and I couldn't consider myself someone who knew about his brief life and music career so I decided it was time to read a biography. I chose this one because of the higher rating and because of the author writing many other biographies of famous musicians.

I did learn things about Holly that I hadn't known, how his material came to be, his rock 'n roll friendships, his management endeavors, and the financial struggle he faced towards the end of his life. Even
Richard Barnes
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great read that captures just why Buddy Holly is so important in the history of rock and pop, and illuminates the tragedy of his early death.

Norman understands the history and sets Buddy's life against a background of the sudden explosion of rock'n'roll and Elvis with its equally rapid (partial) decline.

In addition, this book reveals the personal stories, in particular the complex and occassionaly sinister role of Norman Petty (Buddy's most prominent Producer and sort of Manager). Anyone who's r
Menno Pot
Sep 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
I've read a number of major rock biographies by Philip Norman. This is my favourite. It's the biography Buddy Holly deserves, the one he would have hoped for. It ties everything together: rock 'n roll history, Buddy as an artist, Buddy as a human being, his family, a beautiful and vivid image of 1950s Texas, the 'Day the Music Died' and, last but not least, it paints a sharp and merciless picture of Norman Petty, Holly's producer/manager, who ripped Buddy off and kept sitting on his royalties, w ...more
Jan 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
Buddy Holly (born, Charles Hardin Holley), one of the founders of rock’n’roll, died tragically in a plane crash on February 3, 1959, at only 22 years old. He had a new wife of only 5 months, and they were expecting their first child.

Buddy was a charming, genuinely nice, down-to-earth guy, but he wasn’t perfect. He had had an affair with a married woman, and towards the end of his life, he was in a battle with his first manager over money that was never passed on. The book goes into great detail
Amber Rush
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This book tells the overview of the legend that was Buddy Holly. From how he oppressed religion with the 'devils music' through rock and roll. Explaining his battle with Norman Petty and the scams of music management. He inspired so many modern and classic Artists including Eddie Cochran, John Lennon and Bob Dylan. The so-called 'holly fate' showing how those that he heavily influenced all had premonitions about their death before the unfortunate happens. Showing the fatal winter dance party and ...more
Sep 19, 2014 rated it liked it
A labor of love, but still, there seems to be many holes in the story he tells. Also, the author inserts himself into the narrative far too much for my tastes. His Beatles book is far better. I was happy to learn any information about Buddy as I only knew what that dumb Gary Busey movie told me as well as other dramatized versions of Buddy's life I have seen over the years. If you're in need of Buddy Holly introductory information, this is a decent book to read. Although, after reading this acco ...more
Joe Eidson
Jun 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
You wouldn't think a life so short would have such a long biography, but this book is very well-researched and goes into some fine detail on Buddy Holly. My only complaint is that the prose sometimes lapses into some overly-saccharine description of Holly's genius - sometimes a chord is just a chord, y'know? ...more
Michael Todd
Jan 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Of course, I enjoyed hearing details I never knew about Buddy Holly's life. However, I was especially intrigued to hear about 1950s pop culture, press, radio, music charts, the music industry and the audience. This book is like a time capsule of American and British life in that era. We're fortunate so many who had first hand knowledge were still alive to speak to the author. ...more
Apr 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Basically, everything in the Gary Busey joint, The Buddy Holly Story, was more or less made up. Which is weird, because the stuff in here would actually be better as a movie than what they conjured up for the script anyway.
Jun 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Philip Norman has done a very good job of rooting out information that has become mythologized with the passing of time. I recommend this book to any serious music buff.
Jan 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: going-to-read
The book was so great talking about the biography of Buddy Holly but it was quite sad when the plane crash happened I was crying really hard when that happened in the book.But great book! :)
Jan 18, 2016 rated it liked it
What a interesting life. A life taken way to soon.
Good book.
Peter Burton
Aug 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Very interesting book especially on the role of Norman Petty and the details of the plane crash.A great rock star whose work has stood the test of time.A sad and moving account from a true fan.
Dec 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The definitive biography of Buddy Holly. Engaging writing for an engaging artist.
Mar 11, 2008 rated it liked it
my buddy holly obsession never really goes away. a 2nd-time read, and fascinating account of one of the giants of rock-n-roll.
Chris Patterson
Feb 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Gunnar Hjalmarsson
Dec 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Ýtarleg, skemmtileg og góð. Allt sem maður þarf að vita um Buddy og hans örstutta feril. Fullt hús!
Aug 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
Favorite biography ever. Swear.
rated it really liked it
Sep 05, 2017
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“The pièce de résistance, put into the can on the very first day, owed its inspiration to Little Richard, who would whip audiences to further frenzy between numbers by self-congratulatory cries of “Well...all right!” Buddy turned the phrase into a gentle love song infused with all his special quality of patience and optimism and his developing ability to make personal sentiments into universal ones. “Well, All Right” is a riposte to all the criticism and condescension that teenagers faced from their elders in the rock 'n' roll fifties—and have in every decade since. The setting is as adventurously simple as that of “Everyday”: Buddy plays flamenco-accented acoustic guitar, with only a plashing cymbal for company. The mood is not one of youthful anger and defiance but of maturity before its time: calm, stoical, steadfast in affirming its “dreams and wishes.” The intimacy in the voice could equally be that of lover or elder brother. Girl or boy, you can imagine you and he are alone together, gazing into the fire and imagining a bright future when the young will “live and love with all our might,” which could almost be a prophecy of the sixties' hippie culture.” 0 likes
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