Thursday, February 18, 2010

Buddy Holly's Label Problem

As long as musician have been signed to record labels there's been misunderstandings about what's in the contract, almost always by the artist. What's unusual is when you actually have an audio recording of the disagreement. What's even more unusual is when this recording is from way back in 1956 and it involves the legendary Buddy Holly.

Here's the setup. Buddy and his band were spotted by a talent scout opening for Elvis and signed to the Decca label out of Nashville. Decca had them record 5 tracks with famed producer Owen Bradley, but no one liked the result, so Decca declined the option on Buddy's contract when it came up for renewal. Buddy was OK about being released, but wanted to be able to use the songs that he recorded, so he called the president of Decca to get permission. He also secretly recorded the call, which is what you're about to hear.

Decca refused to let him use the songs (which included what became his huge hit, "That'll Be The Day"), which is understandable since they wanted to recoup the money they spent. Holly eventually got around the deal by recording the songs for a subsidiary of Decca under the name of the band "The Crickets," which is probably why Decca never took him to court, which they probably had the right to do.

I spotted this video on the great Musicianscooler blog. Dave Jackson of Musicians Cooler recently did a couple of interviews with me regarding my Music 3.0 and How To Make Your Band Sound Great books. Thanks, Dave! I'll post the links when the interviews go live.

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