The Buddy Holly Story (1978)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Gary Busey's sterling performance as Buddy Holly graces this entertaining film biography of this pioneering rock and roll performer. The film follows the trajectory of Holly's musical career from his beginnings in Lubbock, Texas, through his troubled recording career, to his national fame after the success of his hit "That'll Be the Day." As Holly struggles up the road to success, the film also chronicles the tension between him and his backup band, The Crickets (Don Stroud and Charles Martin Smith), along with his love for his Puerto Rican bride Maria (Maria Richwine).
Drama , Musical & Performing Arts
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Columbia Pictures


Gary Busey
as Buddy Holly
Don Stroud
as Jesse Charles
Charles Martin Smith
as Ray Bob Simmons
Conrad Janis
as Turner
Gloria Irizarry
as Mrs. Santiago
Albert Popwell
as Eddie Foster
Amy Johnston
as Jenny Lou
James Beach
as Mr. Wilson
M.G. Kelly
as M.C.
Paul Mooney
as Sam Cooke
Bill P. Murry
as Desk Clerk
Freeman King
as Tyrone
Steve Camp
as Cook
Jody Berry
as Engineer Sam
Bob Christopher
as Cadillac Salesman
Arch Johnson
as Mr. Holly
Neva Patterson
as Mrs. Holly
Jim Beach
as Mr. Wilson
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for The Buddy Holly Story

All Critics (18) | Top Critics (1)

The facts in this pop biography are often hopelessly askew, but the story is carried by the unadulterated power of Gary Busey's original and insightful performance.

April 22, 2013
New Yorker
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | March 25, 2009
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | June 23, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

...a better-than-average behind-the-scenes drama that boasts a sterling turn from Busey and a whole lot of memorable music.

Full Review… | October 31, 2014
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Audience Reviews for The Buddy Holly Story


If you want to see the promise and potential of Gary Busey before a drug-induced psychosis enveloped his entire being, this is the film to watch. Busey's portrayal of the legendary rock-n-roll pioneer is absolutely brilliant. He even sings all of Buddy's songs himself. Gary Busey is a walking, talking testament to the belief that the line between genius and madness is a thin one. Much like Buddy Holly himself, Busey is a star that burned out all too quickly.

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer


Probably the best work Gary Busey has ever done.


Super Reviewer

Gary Busey not only did his own singing, but even lost 32 lbs to play Buddy Holly in this sensational musical biography of the singer from Lubbock Texas. Despite reportedly playing fast and loose with facts, the film is extremely entertaining. Busey was rightfully nominated for an Oscar for his effective portrayal.

Mark Hobin
Mark Hobin

Super Reviewer

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