Buddy Holly's Bassist, Joe B. Mauldin, Jr., Has Died

By Bridget Oates ,

Joe B. Mauldin, Jr., the famous bassman who held down the low end for Buddy Holly, died of cancer on February 7 at 74.

Joe joined the Crickets at just 17 along with Niki Sullivan on rhythm guitar and Jerry Allison on drums. Holly had been scouted and signed to Decca after opening for the King of Rock 'n Roll in Lubbuck, Texas, but his record deal didn't last long. He only recorded three songs, including "That'll Be the Day." He was forbidden from re-recording the song with another label for five years, but he was able to wiggle out of his contractual obligations by releasing the song under a new band name.

The song was an instant smash hit for the Crickets and their unique two-guitar band became the model for rock bands to come.

Written for the line repeated by John Wayne in The Searchers, this was the band's first single: 

This hit was almost named Cindy Lou but the drummer Jerry Allison asked that it be called "Peggy Sue" as that was his fiancee's name. 

Buddy Holly and the Crickets enjoyed phenomenal success with seven Top 40 singles in their first year alone. Sadly, their wild rise to stardom was cut short in 1959 when Buddy Holly was killed in a plane crash. Holly had chartered a plane with Winter Dance Party Tour mates Richie Valens and the J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson. It crashed shortly after take-off, killing all onboard, including the pilot.

The Crickets played on with a variety of guest singers before Mauldin, Jr. left to join the Army between 1964-1966. Upon returning, he settled in Los Angeles and refocused on the band in the mid-70s. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012 and continued making albums right up until Joe's passing.

To find out more, visit the Crickets website.