Review: Buddy

It was an unkept promise that broke the hearts of millions of music lovers.

Buddy Holly, the rising star of pop, defied the pledge to his pregnant wife not to fly after a winter gig in Iowa.

The plane carrying him crashed in a blizzard. It was February 3, 1959: Buddy was just 22.

The tragedy, which also claimed the lives of Ritchie Valens, 17, and the Big Bopper, 28, was hailed as 'the day the music died' in Don McLean's song, American Pie.

It is the stuff of music legend, just like the music that Holly created in an all-too-short career laced with stellar songs that influenced future generations of singers and songwriters from The Beatles to Bob Dylan.

Buddy, the musical, has been running for 22 years – the same as his lifespan – and has played to 20m people worldwide, showing that the music certainly has not died.

The stage show charts his story from teenage Texan country-and- western singer to a chart-topping rocker who made wearing glasses cool.

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The opening night of this touring production, which runs until Saturday, starred 2010 drama school graduate Roger Rowley.

He delivered a stunning all-round acting, singing and guitar-playing performance as Buddy, backed by a cast bubbling with the energy of the era including Miguel Angel as Ritchie and Steve Dorsett as the Bopper.

Holly switched effortlessly between sensitive ballad and scorching rock and roll – as does this feelgood show, which bristles with timeless hits such as Everyday, Peggy Sue, Heartbeat and Raining in My Heart.

The story is well documented, so the plot won't surprise anyone – especially the core audience of music fans of a certain age.

But anyone coming to this jukebox musical show is simply after a reminder of a golden era of music.

Has this nugget from those golden days lost its lustre?

That'll be the day...

Richard Batson

Bookings at the Theatre Royal box office on 01603 630000; website

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