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Recent Editorial: The Brownfield News
Brownfield woman, rock ‘n’ roll namesake write controversial book
Just about everybody in West Texas has heard the song “Peggy Sue.”
But how many people know the true story behind the woman who inspired the rock ‘n’ roll classic? Now, thanks to the work of lifelong Brownfield resident Glenda Cameron, those who don’t know can find out. Cameron and Peggy Sue Gerron together wrote “Whatever Happened to Peggy Sue,” a memoir released Jan. 28 and available at Barnes and Noble, Hastings and Drug Emporium in Lubbock.

The book tells the story of Peggy Sue’s acquaintanceship with Buddy Holly at Lubbock High School to Holly’s rise to fame and marriage to Maria Elena Holly. It continues to Peggy Sue’s own marriage to Buddy Holly and the Crickets band member Jerry Allison to the infamous plane crash that took the lives of Buddy and fellow musicians Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper. The publication of the book coincides with the song’s 1958 release.
“The timing was just right,” Cameron said. “The song ‘Peggy Sue’ was 50 years old – it was time for the story to be told.” The story comes from Peggy Sue’s old journal entries and from interviews with Buddy’s old friends, including four band members.
“The book that we have written is the truth as far as I know,” Cameron said. “I’ve heard it over and over again, and it all fits – not just what Peggy Sue was saying, but what everybody else was saying too.” Everyone except at least one person however.
Maria Elena Holly, Buddy’s widow, claims much of the material in the book is false.
“It’s interesting that this woman makes up all these stories. He never, never considered Peggy Sue a friend,” Maria told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
Cameron and Peggy Sue deny Maria Elena’s accusations and feel she didn’t know any of the characters in the book long enough to form such strong opinions.
“Maria just comes out with some outlandish things, but she wasn’t there,” Cameron said. “She was only in his life about six months. The only thing I can figure out is jealousy.”
In other words, according to the authors, New York native Maria met Buddy when he already had a close circle of friends from Texas that included Peggy Sue, and Maria never did get over her secret feelings of resentment. “I think there was some jealousy that these people were such good friends,” Cameron said. “{Peggy Sue} can’t help it that her friend was Buddy Holly. It’s just ridiculous.” “Whatever Happened to Peggy Sue?” may have just been released less than a month ago, but ideas for the book go back much longer than that. Cameron and Peggy met about 13 years ago at a fundraising project for substance abuse treatment, a cause to which they were both devoted. The two women became friends, and when they traveled together, Cameron noticed the frequent curiosity of Buddy Holly fans when they met Peggy Sue. “People were always asking her the same questions – ‘How did you feel when you heard the song for the first time? How did you feel when you heard about the plane crash?’” Cameron said. After several years in consideration about writing a memoir, Cameron and Peggy Sue decided to finally get started after a coincidental meeting with a publisher in Tyler, Texas. Unlike many other two-author books in which one person recalls a story aloud and the other ghost writes, both authors of “Whatever Happened to Peggy Sue” spent equal time with the word processor for the year and a half it took to write the book. “We worked on it together,” Cameron said. “It was like a collaboration. We were both co-writers.” Cameron and Peggy Sue traveled to Clear Lake, Iowa the last week in January to promote the book at a music festival held on the 49th anniversary of Buddy Holly’s fatal plane crash. Several fans there had already reviewed the book. “People read the book, and they told Peggy Sue, ‘Thank you for filling in the blanks of the story,’” Cameron said. Cameron added that visiting the festival was like stepping back 50 years. “People came dressed in costumes – they had their poodle skirts and their cat-eyed glasses. The guys had their hair slicked back,” Cameron said. “They celebrate the music, not the death. They turn it into something positive.”

Peggy Sue has two grown children and has worked as a dental assistant and as the first licensed female plumber in California. She now lives in Lubbock again.
Cameron has a Bachelor of Science in Education and a Master of Arts in English and Spanish from Texas Tech University and taught at Brownfield Middle School and Brownfield High School for 29 years. She has a Chihuahua and a 14-year old cat, C.J. She is now working on her second book, a biography of the musician Tommy Allsup.

............................................................................................................................... Recent Editorial: Small Press Bookwatch
The Biography Shelf - Book Review
When rock and roll artists sing about women - it's nine times out of ten not actually about one specific woman - but that one time out of ten, one has to wonder who these songs are about and how they inspired the artist. "Whatever Happened to Peggy Sue: A Memoir by Buddy Holly's Peggy Sue" is the story of the famous artist who was taken from the world far too soon and the subject of one his most famous songs - Peggy Sue. She speaks candidly and with total truth about her relationship with Buddy Holly and sets all the rumors and myths surrounding them and their respective spouses to rest. "Whatever Happened to Peggy Sue: A Memoir by Buddy Holly's Peggy Sue" is highly recommended for Buddy Holly fanatics and community library memoir collections with a focus on music.


Recent Editorial: Lawsuit threat against Peggy Sue is unfair
Lubbock Avalanche-Journal / Thursday, January 24, 2008

MARIA ELENA HOLLY'S threat of a lawsuit against Peggy Sue Gerron for her book about Buddy Holly is only the latest mean-spirited act by the rock 'n' roll legend's widow.

Once again, Ms. Holly hides behind the claim she is trying to protect the name, image and reputation of Buddy Holly. Once again, we don't believe her.

She claims Ms. Gerron, who is the namesake of the hit song "Peggy Sue," lied in her book "Whatever Happened to Peggy Sue?" about having a friendship with Buddy Holly, according to a story by Associated Press reporter Betsy Blaney.

A letter from Ms. Holly's attorney to the publisher of Ms. Gerron's book said confusion and tarnishment of Buddy Holly's name and Ms. Holly's reputation would likely result from the book.

Ms. Holly's last sham of protecting her husband's image came last year when she told Civic Lubbock it could no longer use the names of the Buddy Holly Terrace and the Buddy Holly Walk of Fame without paying a fee.

It was selfish and greedy. Lubbock had paid a great honor to Mr. Holly with the namings, and the notion she was trying to protect her husband's name was ridiculous.

Travis Holley, the rock 'n' roll star's brother, wrote a letter to the A-J saying he and other family members were proud and honored by the use of Mr. Holly's name by the city. Anyone who sincerely cared would feel the same way.

We wrote on June 18 we would respect her more if she dropped the pretense she was trying to protect the name of her late husband and admitted she was trying to cash in for all the money she can get.

We wonder what would happen if the publisher of Ms. Gerron's book offered to give Ms. Holly a cut of the royalties. We suspect the book suddenly would be deemed to be quite acceptable.

In any case, the threat of a frivolous lawsuit is empty. Unauthorized biographies are a common thing in the world of celebrities. Even when the celebrities are viciously attacked - and that certainly is not the case with Ms. Gerron's book - the books are published.

We hope Buddy Holly's name will fall into public domain under the Texas Property Code next year, which will be 50 years after his death. It would be a happy day for many of us in Buddy Holly's hometown if Maria no longer had control of his name.


Recent Editorial: Holly's widow fights Peggy Sue
The New Zealand Herald Monday January 14, 2008 By David Smith
Her name was made famous by a Buddy Holly song 50 years ago. But how close was the real Peggy Sue to the early rock 'n' roll star? Not very, according to his widow.

Maria Elena Holly has gone to court in a bid to stop Peggy Sue Gerron selling a book about her friendship with the pioneering singer-songwriter, who died at 22 in a plane crash in 1959.

She claims that Gerron's Whatever Happened to Peggy Sue? is unauthorised and will harm Holly's name, her reputation and that of her company, Holly Properties.

"It's very interesting that this woman makes up all these stories," Maria Elena Holly said from her home in Dallas. "He never, never considered Peggy Sue a friend."

She said she would sue if the excerpts she had read were in the book, which is available online and will be in bookshops soon.

"I don't understand why people do that, especially when she knows that people know the truth," said Holly.

Gerron, from Lubbock, Texas, said she wrote the 283-page book because last year was the 50th anniversary of the release of Peggy Sue. It became a hit with its simple lyrics: Peggy Sue, Peggy Sue - oh how my heart yearns for you/Oh Peggy - my Peggy Sue/Oh well, I love you, gal/Yes, I love you, Peggy Sue.

Gerron, 67, said material for the book came from about 150 diary entries she made during the time she knew Holly.

"I wanted to give him his voice," she said. "It's my book, my memoirs. We were very, very good friends. He was probably one of the best friends I ever had."

She said a potential lawsuit was "just another matter" and "won't taint the book", adding: "I feel I have every right to write my book. That's why we live in America."

Gerron announced publication of the memoirs on her own website, where she describes herself in glowing terms: "Peggy Sue is an icon. She is nostalgia. The girl next door. Peggy Sue is the spirit of the Fifties."

The site recounts her first encounter with Holly as the thing of which "fairytales are made". It goes on: "Buddy accidentally knocked her down in a hallway at Lubbock High School while running, with guitar and amplifier in hand, to get on stage for a music assembly in the school auditorium. 'I'm too late to pick you up,' he said, 'but you sure are pretty."'

Maria Elena Holly, who married the musician in August 1958, has for years owned the rights to his name, image and related trademarks, and other intellectual properties, according to a letter sent by her lawyer to Gerron's publisher last week.

Buddy Holly's brother, Larry Holley, said Peggy Sue was not the original lyric in the song of the same name. The name Holly originally intended to use was Cindy Lou, Holly's niece.

Maria Elena said her husband changed the name to Peggy Sue after Crickets drummer Jerry Allison, who later married Gerron in July 1958, asked him to because he had a crush on Gerron at the time.



Archived Editorial: Namesake of Buddy Holly's song talks about musician
Lubbock Avalanche-Journal / Friday, October 18, 2002

Jeff Rackham knew he wanted to interview his grandmother as part of a class assignment at Christ the King Cathedral School.

In preparation for talking to teachers and students for the school's 2003 yearbook, Jeff and his classmates practiced interviewing first each other and then family members.

Jeff's request surprised his grandmother.

"I said, 'Why do you want the interview — because it will be easy for you?' " Peggy Gerron said.

The 15-year-old admitted as much. But there was another reason: Jeff's grandmother is more recognizable as Peggy Sue, the Lubbock girl immortalized in the 1950s rock 'n' roll classic of the same name by Buddy Holly.

"I think it's very special that they did that for her and she actually had a chance to have a song about her," Jeff said of his grandmother, whose names were used in place of the original lyrics, "Cindy Lou."

Those names didn't ring a bell with other students in Nila Jean Spencer's yearbook class.

"Peggy Sue who?" one classmate asked.

"The famous Peggy Sue," was the reply.

Earlier this week class members got an opportunity to interview Peggy Sue Gerron, who downplays the fame.

"I never consider myself famous," she said. "The music is. That's what the whole thing was about — the music, not the person."

Jeff, who appeared in People Magazine in 1995 with his twin brother, John, and their grandmother, takes a similar approach.

"She is famous in a way, but more she's a grandma to me," the ninth-grader said. "She's famous for the fact that she has a song out. But to me it's not really a big deal because I've heard so much about it."

Jeff, a native of Sacramento, Calif., who moved to Lubbock in 1995 with his family, said he's heard the song only about 10 times. He prefers rap music.

"I like the song, but it's kind of old," he said.

Gerron understands her grand son's ambivalent feelings about the song, written by Holly, Jerry Allison and Norman Petty and released Sept. 20, 1957.

"He's not a fan of that kind of music," she said. "I think he likes it OK, but it's not his music. He's in the age group now where they have their own sound.

"I thought it was kind of creative on his part to want to (interview me) because the music is so far away from his age group."

During her group interview, Gerron was asked several questions about her relationship with Holly, her favorite Holly songs and what it was like to be friends with a famous musician.

She said she was "absolutely delighted beyond words" when Holly performed "Peggy Sue" the first time at a concert she attended as a guest. She was 17 years old at the time.

She treasured her friendship with Holly while dating Allison, the drummer in Holly's group, The Crickets.

"You could always talk to him," she said of Holly. "He was a good listener. There's a lot to be said for that."

She told the students she remembers most Holly's brown eyes.

"They were so shiny, and he had a great smile. And he worked all the time," she said.

Gerron said she was devastated when she heard of Holly's death in a Feb. 3, 1959, plane crash during a snow storm.

"It was a long time before I listened to music again," she said.

What one question would she ask him if she could, one student asked.

"Why'd you take the airplane even though you were so physically uncomfortable?" she said. "Why take that chance?"


Archives Editorial: Holly Center big hit with crowd at gala
Lubbock Avalanche-Journal / Friday, September 3, 1999

More than 600 people were in attendance Thursday as a new chapter in Lubbock's history began with the gala opening of the Buddy Holly Center.

The gala gave members of the community an opportunity to view the center and all of its exhibits before today's grand opening and ribbon cutting at 4:30 p.m. at the center, 19th Street and Avenue G.

For all of those in attendance, the event provided a truly unique experience and a chance to travel back in time.

''I love what they did to the old building,'' said Peggy Sue Gerron, the woman forever linked with Holly through the song he wrote about her. ''It's so romantic. I'm a little partial to Buddy, but when I walked through the exhibit it was a little bit dark and there were only a couple of people in there and I was overcome with feelings. It's kind of like home.''

Gerron said she was a little nervous about what the center would be like before she saw it, but in the end she was thrilled.

''It's all just terrific,'' she said. ''I absolutely love it, and I'm so proud of it and so proud of Lubbock. If I had buttons on, I'd be popping them!''

For others who knew Holly, the center brought a familiar face back to life, if only for a short time.

''(My husband and I) went to high school with Buddy,'' said Jo Love Nelson. ''I was in choir with him. A lot of this is really familiar.''

Nelson admitted she too was a little leery of what the center would be like.

''I was a little nervous that they might not have enough memorabilia, but I'm very pleased with it,'' she said. ''I think it's great.''

While the main attraction of the gala was the Buddy Holly Museum, the center also features the Texas Musicians Hall of Fame, currently offering an exhibit on The Crickets, and an art gallery, featuring Retrospection 15, an exhibit highlighting 15 years of arts projects by the Fine Arts Center.

A recurring theme for the event was the emphasis on the world-class nature of all parts of the center, and Kay Gilmour couldn't have agreed more.

''Having lived in Chicago and Dallas, this is absolutely world class,'' she said. ''It beats anything you could see in major cities.''

But for Gilmour, the best part of the center wasn't its ability to compete with other facilities, it was the impact it had on her spirit.

''When you're in the building, you lose all sense of being in a museum,'' she said. ''You're engulfed by Lubbock's history and what we've contributed to the world.''

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