Buddy Holly Signs Recording Contract with Decca Records

Buddy negotiates a recording contract with Decca and a three-year songwriter's contract with Cedarwood Publishing Company.

Throughout 1956, between recording sessions with Decca and practicing with his band, Buddy polishes his act and gains much needed experience performing for touring shows, dances, and clubs around Lubbock and West Texas. His encounter with Decca will teach him a lot about the recording industry, and by 1957, he begins to develop a distinctive style and vision regarding the direction he wants his career to take.

Eddie Crandall, the booking agent who arranged for their appearance with Bill Haley, liked Buddy enough to send some of his demos to Decca Records. From this, in early 1956, came Buddy's first recording contract offer. He signed it, even though to his chagrin, the contract left out his friend Bob, and misspelled his name as "Holly" (no 'e').

He signed a contract to record country music on the Decca label in 1956. The first session was in Nashville on January 26, 1956 and held at Owen Bradley's recording studio. Don Guess, another Lubbock boy, played bass and with Sonny Curtis on lead guitar. Drummer Allison, still in high school, sat in for only one session. Holly recorded a number of records that went nowhere. Among them was "That'll Be the Day" that in rock version would be a hit. At this time Holly began writing. One of the songs "Cindy Lou" which was to be one of his biggest hits. It would later be renamed "Peggy Sue" at the suggestion of band member Jerry Allison.

Buddy wasn't allowed to play the guitar as Bradley thought it made the recordings to difficult. Among the four songs that were recorded was "Blue Days, Black Nights" which would be Holly's first single. On the label his name was spelled "Buddy Holly" for the first time. Reviewed favorably in the trade press, the record did not do well in the marketplace. The disc did not succeed partially because Holly and the Decca-selected backup group could not create the tightness inherent in the union of Holly's voice, his guitar and his own group of musicians.

Following this performance, Decca Records signed him to a contract in February 1956, misspelling his name as "Holly". He therefore adopted the misspelled name for his professional career. Holly formed his own band, which would later be called The Crickets. It consisted of Holly (lead guitar and vocalist), Niki Sullivan (guitar), Joe B. Mauldin (bass), and Jerry Allison (drums). By appearance, the tall, gangly Holly resembled the captain of a chess team. From listening to their recordings, one had difficulty determining if the Crickets were white or black singers. Holly indeed sometimes played with black musicians Little Richard and Chuck Berry. The Crickets were only the second white rock group to tour Great Britain, and they inspired the later Beatles, a name somewhat similar to the Crickets. Holly's essential eyeglasses encouraged other musicians, such as John Lennon, also to wear their glasses during performances.