John Wayne Inspired a Classic Buddy Holly Tune: Here’s How

by Joe Rutland
john-wayne-inspired-a-classic-buddy-holly-tune-heres-how

When you hear Buddy Holly’s “That’ll Be The Day,” you don’t connect it with John Wayne. But you will after you see how they’re tied together.

Let’s first talk about one of Wayne’s best-known characters in Ethan Edwards from John Ford’s classic film “The Searchers.” If you have seen the movie, then you know one of Ethan’s favorite lines to say is “that’ll be the day.”

He says it in a way that lets another character know Wayne, as Ethan, doesn’t believe something will happen or occur right away. Countless scenes show Ethan repeating this line again and again, according to an article from Western Classic Movies.

John Wayne Film Line Becomes Jumping-Off Point For Holly Hit Song

Now Holly fans may know this legendary story as it is, well, one that’s taken on legendary status over the decades. Apparently, Holly and bandmate Jerry Allison were together catching a show back in 1955. The movie they were seeing? Why, of course, it was “The Searchers” starring John Wayne.

Holly and Allison were hanging out one night, working on writing songs. Legend has it that Holly told Allison something along the lines of “wouldn’t it be great to have a hit song?” Allison replied with “that’ll be the day.” The line that John Wayne used over and over again as Ethan.

That’s a song cue for Holly, who ended up writing the song and released it in 1956. It went on to become one of Holly’s biggest hits. Obviously, popular music fans know that Holly’s life sadly ended on Feb. 3, 1959, in a plane crash. People refer to it as “The Day the Music Died” as Holly, Richie Valens, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson all died in the crash.

Still, the influence of Holly’s musical style is heard across the bands of rock and roll. “That’ll Be The Day” remains a popular song on the radio today. Now you know about the connection between John Wayne, Buddy Holly, and the hit rock song.

Impersonators Have A Field Day Mimicking Voice, Mannerisms Of ‘The Duke’

John Wayne had a distinctive voice and walk. It’s something that once you hear and see them both, then you know “The Duke” is on your screen.

Well, impersonators always were looking for actors with distinctive voices and mannerisms to use in their act. Some of the more famous ones include Rich Little and Frank Gorshin.

What did Wayne think of these guys?

“Well it’s hard to keep up my image,” he said in a 1976 interview with talk-show host Phil Donahue. “I can’t imitate all of my imitators so I’m afraid they won’t know the fellow who’s imitating.”

Donahue mentions impressionists Little, Gorshin, and John Byner by name. He then asks Wayne how he would imitate, um, John Wayne. Donahue, who is married to “That Girl” star Marlo Thomas, prompts Wayne and asks him to deliver a line.

“Well, alright pilgrim,” Wayne said laughing.

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