Buddy Holly was the toast of the charts in the last few months of 1957. His first smash with the Crickets, ‘That’ll Be The Day,’ topped the American bestsellers in September and was just coming to the end of a three-week reign in the UK when the group’s follow-up, ‘Oh, Boy!’ hit the US countdown — when Holly was also big news in his own right with a third hit, ‘Peggy Sue.’ All three went on to become rock ‘n’ roll classics.
Holly co-wrote ‘That’ll Be The Day’ with his Crickets bandmate Jerry Allison and the group’s producer, Norman Petty. But for ‘Oh, Boy!’, Petty looked beyond their own material for a song he’d composed with Bill Tilghman and Sonny West. Another Texan rock ‘n’ roller, West had released the first version of the song, but it failed to catch the public imagination.
The Crickets’ version was released by Brunswick as one half of another definitive single of the era, backed by ‘Not Fade Away,’ The song entered Billboard‘s Top 100 Sides (one of its forerunners of the Hot 100) for the week of 25 November 1957 at No. 89. Meanwhile, ‘Peggy Sue’ was climbing 35-27 and ‘That’ll Be The Day’ was still in the top 40, dipping 25-32. The flip side would become a classic in its own right, covered in 1964 by the Rolling Stones.
In the same issue of Billboard, the magazine reported that ‘Oh, Boy!’ was “beginning to move well in most of the top markets.” It went on to a No. 10 peak on Top 100 Sides, and has inspired cover versions ever since. Bobby Vee recorded it in 1963, to be followed by Jackie DeShannon, the Everly Brothers and many others. In May 1975, English pop band Mud took it all the way to the top of the UK chart.
‘Oh, Boy!’ is on Buddy Holly’s Gold compilation, which can be bought here.
Follow the official Buddy Holly Best Of playlist.