Many Crickets fans felt that lead singer Gordon Payne had much of Buddy
Holly’s energy and enthusiasm and these recordings from 1992 and 1993
feature Gordon at his best with fellow Crickets Sonny Curtis, J I
Allison, Joe Mauldin & Glen D Hardin.
Article properties: The Crickets: Double Exposure (CD)
So what would Buddy Holly have sounded like if he was still recording in 1963? The Crickets provide a possible answer. By 1962, former dee-jay Jerry Naylor was taking the lead vocals, and the group was rounded out by drummer Jerry Allison, lead guitarist Sonny Curtis, and pianist Glen D. Hardin (although researcher John Ingman figures that Leon Russell plays piano here). Jerry Naylor took the lead on most of the Liberty recordings until he went solo in 1965. The Crickets were astonishingly successful in the UK during the early 1960s, racking up several hits, including Carol King's Don't Ever Change, Sonny Curtis's My Little Girl, as well as Don't Try To Change Me and a revival of La Bamba. They even landed a movie role, singing My Little Girl and Teardrops Fall Like Rain in the 1962 British rock music movie, 'Just For Fun.' Here they tackle a song by their Liberty Records stablemate Jackie DeShannon and Sharon Sheeley, the girlfriend of former Liberty Records star, Eddie Cochran. It first appeared as a single, then on the UK-only LP, 'A Collection,' in 1965.
At the time this was issued in the UK, first on a single and then on a UK-only album, 'A Collection,' the Crickets were a hot item in Europe, as indeed was their former lead singer, Buddy Holly. In the USA, Lonely Avenue was issued as a single in January 1964 coupled with You Can't Be In-Between, but in the UK Lonely Avenue was released two months later, coupled with the just-recorded Playboy. The latter was an early effort by David Gates, who became the founder and chief composer for the '70s soft rock group, Bread. The son of a band director and piano teacher in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Gates grew up with classical music, and was reading music at age Five. By high school, he was proficient on piano, guitar and bass, and was soon making rockabilly records for East-West, Mala, and other labels. Just weeks before Playboy was recorded, Gates had his first hit as a songwriter when The Murmaids took his Popsicles And Icicles into the US Top 10.
Recorded on June 14, 1963 and released just over one month later, hopes must have been high for April Avenue, but the song has been curiously neglected through the years, and rarely reissued until now. Sonny Curtis took the lead vocal on what amounts to a complete short story related in under two-and-a-half minutes. He was becoming an ace songwriter. "When I was a kid,” he says, "I wanted to be a big country star. A local promoter put me on a show with Hank Snow. I went on right before Hank, and to impress him, I sang a lot of his hits. I was so dumb, I didn't realize that was not the thing to do. Hank's road manager told me that if I wanted to make it, I would have to find my own songs, and if I didn't know any songwriters, I would have to write them myself. I never became a big country star, but I did learn to write songs.” He wrote Walk Right Back for the Everly Brothers, and in 1964 the Bobby Fuller Four revived his Crickets song, I Fought The Law. In 1980 Leo Sayer revived another old Crickets song, More Than I Can Say, and later that decade Sonny walked away with several awards for Keith Whitley's big country hit, I'm No Stranger To The Rain, but his biggest payday probably came when he wrote and recorded the theme song to 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show.'