Hollywood actor Gary Busey revisited his musical roots by paying homage to Buddy Holly on the 53rd anniversary of Holly’s death in Minneapolis, working with three McNally Smith alumni. Standing in as Holly’s band The Crickets, Josh Bourdon (bass), Brandon Petron (guitar), and Zach Spicer (drums) formed the perfect backing trio for the musician-turned-actor whose role as Holly in the 1978 biopic, The Buddy Holly Story, earned Busey an Academy Award Nomination and the National Society of Film Critics‘ Best Actor award.
During sound check, Busey regaled the eager young players with stories from the movie and insights into Buddy’s music, before expanding the night’s playlist to seven Holly songs. The band, recruited by McNally Smith Composition faculty member Gary Rue, had played in last year’s popular musical about Holly at The History Theatre. Their chops still finely honed, the trio connected immediately with Busey, who says he feels Buddy’s spirit every February 3 and would channel it in performance.
Busey and the trio played together on select Holly tunes like “Rave On,” “Every Day,” “Peggy Sue” and others. Bourdon, Petron, Spicer, and Busey worked so well together that he promised he would have them play with him next year at the Surf Ballroom on February 3. Holly played his last gig at the Surf before dying in a plane accident after the show en route to the next concert date in Moorhead, Minnesota with fellow musicians Richie Valens and The Bog Bopper (J.P. Richardson).
The celebration took place at Pepito’s Parkway Theater in South Minneapolis as part of the Rob Chapman Presents Rock & Roll Moving Picture Show series. Later that night, Busey introduced the film, took questions about the movie, and spoke afterwards about his career. The series at the Parkway has included movies and conversations about Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones (with special guest saxophonist Bobby Keyes), The Doors (with Tony Glover of Koerner, Ray and Glover), Prince (with Revolution drummer Bobby Z and producer Craig Rice), and others.
Busey also discussed having Bourdon, Petron, and Spicer work on a Holly tribute record he was putting together with renowned producer Rob Fabroni (The Band, The Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt) and special guests. Judging from the boisterous crowd reaction and the wide grins of the McNally Smith alums, the evening lived up to the magic and staying power of Buddy’s immortal music and spirit.
Photos from sound check prior to Friday’s event:
- McNally Smith Alums to Perform at Buddy Holly Event with Academy Award Nominee Gary Busey
- Gary Busey covering Buddy Holly songs at the Parkway tonight (The Current)
Older: Five Upcoming Student Bands Showcased at New Music Machine, Feb. 22