Buddy Holly vs Sullivan: Oh Boy as speed-metal

Charlie sez, "Ed Sullivan didn’t want Buddy Holly to perform Oh Boy! on his show. He wanted a ballad. Holly refused to obey. This performance is poetic justice in regards to how awesome Buddy Holly was. Buddy was one of the few defiant rock acts at the time to get into an artistic scuffle with… READ THE REST

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Love this.

I enjoyed watching this through a few times to analyze what you were pointing out. I grew up with a ‘Best of’ cassette in normal rotation and as a kid always considered his music tame by modern 1980s standards. I now look back in awe at these incredibly bold statements compared to anything done for shock value in recent decades. This beats out any bat decapitation or meat dress in my mind.


Michelle Phillips eats a banana while ‘singing’ to protest Ed Sullivan forcing the Mamas and the Papas to lip sync rather than perform live.


This is one of my favorite songs and I hadn’t seen this performance so I watched it a few times to figure out what was going on too. I could see what he was doing, but didn’t quite understand Charlie’s description.

Sullivan apparently had Buddy Holly’s guitar amp turned off or turned down all or most of the way (certainly lower than 50%) because they were pissed off at each other after fighting over the song choice. Holly must have realized immediately that his guitar wasn’t being amplified, but couldn’t do anything - you can see how pissed he looks through the first half of the song - until the guitar break. He then “speed metaled” loud enough that the vocal mic (presumably suspended from above) could pick it up a bit. And in the second half of the song, he must be strumming really hard because you can still hear it (sounding like an un-amplified electric guitar which is why I think it’s being picked up by the vocal mic).

The thing is that if you listen to the studio recording of the song, it really is rather raucous (as per Sullivan’s disapproval) - including the scream and frenetic strumming at the guitar break. Here though, he was putting all of his anger into it on top of that (as well as all of his love and all of his kissing).

p.s. Buddy Holly’s version of “Not Fade Away” is my pick for greatest ever rock and roll song (an opinion which has sparked a few arguments) - and that was the B-side to “Oh Boy!”, also one of the greatest rock and roll songs I think :slight_smile:


That TOTP performance is tame compared to their appearance on The Last Resort With Jonathan Ross, when they played Territorial Pissings instead of the expected Lithium and generally rocked the place the fuck out.

Buddy was pretty awesome too.

Well… yeah, indeed but i thought that was the point, they were playing it as a cheesy lounge version as a reaction to the show requiring acts to mime playing to a backing track. Also, listen to the altered lyrics.

i mean, it’s not too shabby, BUT can’t hold a candle to Bo Diddley tearing up the stage in the exact same spot (Ed Sullivan wanting a ballad). Diddley did NOT get asked back, IIRC. My info, btw is from the 10 hour PBS doc “Rock and Roll” which is an awesome watch if you can find it online.

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