Peggy Sue Gerron, Who Inspired The Classic Buddy Holly Song, Dies At 78
Peggy Sue Gerron, who as a teenager inspired one of Buddy Holly’s most iconic songs, died in Texas this week at the age of 78.
Gerron was the inspiration for the 1957 song “Peggy Sue” that helped to vault Holly to fame. She had first met the singer when she was still a high school student at Lubbock High, where Buddy had already graduated. As Rolling Stone noted, the two first met when Buddy Holly literally ran into her.
“He ran over to me, guitar in one hand, amp in the other, and said, ‘I don’t have time to pick you up, but you sure are pretty’, before he ran off,” Gerron told the BBC in a 2013 interview. “So another girl came and helped me pick up my books and she said, ‘Do you know who that was? That was Buddy Holly.'”
The two ran into each other again — this time, figuratively — a short time later when Gerron was on a date with Jerry Allison, the drummer for Holly’s band, the Crickets. They saw Buddy Holly, who was on a date of his own, and the singer joked about their initial encounter.
The song that bore her name was originally called “Cindy Lou,” after Holly’s niece, but Allison lobbied for them to change it to “Peggy Sue” to impress his girlfriend. It worked.
“I was just delighted, I thought it was a fascinating song,” she told the BBC about hearing the song for the first time. “It’s really hard to stand still when you’re listening to ‘Peggy Sue.'”
Peggy Sue Gerron eventually married Allison, and spent time on the road with the band after Buddy Holly died in a plane crash. They would divorce in the 1960s, and Peggy Sue remarried and moved back to California. She eventually moved back to Lubbock in the 1990s to care for her mother — and published a memoir in 2008 about her time in the spotlight.
The Texas woman who inspired the 1958 Buddy Holly song “Peggy Sue” has died at a Lubbock hospital. https://t.co/Ms1XeExEGC
— Chicago Sun-Times (@Suntimes) October 2, 2018
In her later years, Gerron became a ham radio enthusiast and still enjoyed connecting with fans who remember her from the Buddy Holly song.
“For several years, we had an event every year where it would be publicized within the ham radio community so that people would get on a certain frequency and talk to Peggy Sue,” friend Bryan Edwards told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. “That was a great thrill to those people to talk to her.”
Peggy Sue Gerron died in a hospital in Lubbock surrounded by family.