Jerry Allison, Drummer and Songwriter for Buddy Holly and the Crickets, Dead at 82

by Blake Ells

Jerry “JI” Allison was the drummer and a songwriter for Buddy Holly and the Crickets. He died on Monday at 82 years old. The official Facebook page for Buddy Holly delivered the news.

“Our sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Jerry “JI” Allison, drummer in the Crickets, one of Buddy’s very closest friends, and the inspiration to drummers for decades since, who passed away today at the age of 82. JI was a musician ahead of his time, and undoubtedly his energy, ideas and exceptional skill contributed to both The Crickets, and rock n’ roll itself, becoming such a success. Buddy is often heralded as the original singer-songwriter, but JI, too, wrote and inspired so many of the songs that would go on to be eternal classics. There’s more to be said and posted here in the coming days. For today, we think about his family and friends and wish JI to rest in peace,” the message read.

Jerry Allison was born in 1939 and he and Buddy Holly began playing music together as a duo in the 50s. Allison accompanied Buddy Holly on his first, unsuccessful recording session in Nashville in 1956. A year after that session, the duo met up with bassist Joe B. Mauldin and The Crickets arrived.

Jerry Allison co-wrote many of the biggest hits that the iconic rock band released. He’s credited as an author on “That’ll Be the Day,” “Peggy Sue” and “More Than I Can Say” among many others. The band had overnight success, and their collective star burned bright and fast. The trio split in 1958, but their legacy was cemented. Buddy Holly died in a plane crash in 1959 at just 22 years old. The band had deep Texas roots, as Holly was born in Lubbock.

Buddy Holly’s Drummer Dead at 82

Buddy Holly’s Texas roots generated an unlikely friendship with another Texas legend, Waylon Jennings. The Crickets toured with Waylon Jennings a lot in the 80s. Buddy Holly actually inspired Waylon Jennings to be an outlaw.

“I knew he liked me a lot and he was the first guy to really have a lot of confidence in me,” Waylon Jennings said in a 1995 interview. “Enough to prove it by doing something. He produced my first record.”

Jennings was asked if that confidence inspired him to do it his own way.

“You know what? I never realized it until later, but it was,” he replied.

They later hooked up with Paul McCartney. Macca lent his piano to a 1988 single from The Crickets titled “T Shirt.”

Buddy Holly was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, but The Crickets were not originally inducted with him. Jerry Allison earned a special invitation into the hallowed halls in 2012.