50th Anniversary Of Buddy Holly's Death

Even today Buddy Holly's gangly, geeky look is unmistakable. His music: unforgettable.

It's so fresh that 50 years after his death, it still has the power to draw legions of fans to tiny Clear Lake, Iowa, the site of his last concert, CBS News Correspondent Bill Whitaker reports.

Holly was there at the birth of Rock & Roll, with Elvis and Chuck Berry.

But his death in a plane crash in a snowy Iowa field at the age of 22 with DJ-singer The Big Bopper, and Latin-Rock pioneer Ritchie Valens of "La Bamba" fame, was seared into pop consciousness as "The day the music died."

Only it didn't die.

Buddy Holly is perhaps more popular today than ever before.

Holly is living on in movies - another due out this year - and new CD releases. His music, part black and blues and rock-a-billy, helped ignite a revolution.

Bob Dylan, The Beatles and the Rolling Stones each call Holly a major inspiration.

Singer Graham Nash, who started the 1960s British group "The Hollies" before singing with Crosby & Stills, says Buddy Holly's 1958 tour of England helped launch an invasion.

"I think Buddy's influence on the British invasion was profound," said Nash. "We had soaked up a lot of his music. We had translated it into our English style and sent it back to America."

Can you hear his influence in music today?

"Absolutely," said Ken Luftig Viste, chief curator at the Grammy Museum. "It's high energy dance music. It was about getting out, getting crazy, getting in your car and running around, having a great time. That timeless feeling, especially for young people and people who want to feel that youth again in a way."

Holly's recording career lasted a year-and-a-half.

His popularity? A half century and counting.
  • Bill Whitaker

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