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Amid the snow, ice and turmoil of February 2021, this month always brings to mind another life changing event that will never be made right even when winter gives way to spring, and the world feels like it’s full of second chances. Somewhere in my mind where certain imprints live forever, I’m aware of a desolate Iowa corn field strewn with the wreckage of a small private plane. It’s a well-documented accident that took the lives of the future of rock and roll that day in 1959, Ritchie Valens, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, and Buddy Holly. The promise of all three was limitless. In particular, Buddy Holly (singer, songwriter, musician, band leader and visionary) was an everyman idol. Someone that seemed like the kid next door, a regular guy you’d know from school in your hometown.

Buddy was a hero to so many including my big brother, Jerry, who in turn was my hero. Inspired by Buddy, Jerry got together with three of his buddies and started a band called “The Strollers.” (Jerry Benjamin/rhythm guitar, Bob Hupp/bass guitar, Chuck Asmus/drums, and Pat Wead/lead guitar later replaced by Jim Casey when Pat went off to war in Viet Nam). They played teen dances back in those days and emulated the guys on the radio. They practiced for hours in our basement working up the songs for their sets. I found the lyric to “Not Fade Away” under our living room lamp one morning and thought Jerry had written it for his girlfriend. Little did I know he was actually writing out Buddy’s words so the band could learn it the next day at practice.

The reason I’m struck with all these memories is the ever present “February” on the calendar that for many musicians and songwriters rekindles that bright light and short life of Buddy Holly. His impact on my brother, his bandmates, our town, and millions of fans throughout the world in undeniable. Having lived with these memories for so many years, it was a cathartic challenge to recount his impact on my brother and me in this song called BUDDY HOLLY'S BROTHER. Along with this story, I finally archived the song with a voice and guitar track. I’m grateful to Buddy, my brother, The Strollers, teen dances, Stratocasters and my Mom who make up the moving parts of this song. It’s an uplifting story of the positive power of music and brotherhood!




Tom Benjamin ~ music/lyrics

I felt like Buddy Holly’s brother, since I was 9 or 10

When I found the words to “Not Fade Away”

scribbled on some paper by the lamp

I thought it was amazing,

I thought my brother wrote it for his girlfriend

But those were Buddy’s words he copied down one night

before he stumbled into bed

I was old enough to see something change in him

When he started playing that guitar and with some guys

he went and formed a little band

He bought a Strat just like Buddy’s,

Mom loaned him the money she barely had

‘cause there’s somethin’ ‘bout that sound,

once you get it in your head…

I’m a-gonna tell you how it’s gonna be

You’re gonna give your love to me

Just like Buddy those boys could play

A love for real not fade away...

A love for real not fade away...

Hey hey, hey hey, not fade away

Hey hey, hey hey, not fade away

I felt like Buddy Holly’s brother,

as I watched his hair begin to change

He combed it up and back in a careful stack,

dried side to side on our furnace grate

Every hair had a purpose,

when he smoothed ‘em all in place

And don’t you know they moved just right,

when the band began to play

Hey hey, hey hey, not fade away

I felt like Buddy Holly’s brother,

when I went to hear my brother play

Teen dances on the weekends,

I’d overhear things the girls would say

They liked to call him “Teddy” ‘cause he was cute

and he was ready to be loved

But he kept the rhythm steady

that Stratocaster fit him like a glove...

I’m gonna tell you how it’s gonna be

You’re gonna give your love to me

Just like Buddy those boys could play

A love for real not fade away

A love for real not fade away…

© Branch Creek Music / 2020


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