Jerry Allison, who drummed with Buddy Holly and the Crickets, dead at 82

The drummer was the only constant member of the Crickets, from their formation in 1957 up until their final performance in 2016

Jerry Allison, who drummed as part of Buddy Holly-founded band The Crickets, has died at the age of 82.

Allison’s death was confirmed yesterday (August 22) in a statement shared to Holly’s official Facebook page, which expressed “sincerest condolences to the family and friends” of the drummer. In the statement, Allison is described as “one of buddy’s very closest friends, and the inspiration to drummers for decades since”. A cause of death has not been disclosed.

“[Allison] was a musician ahead of his time, and undoubtedly his energy, ideas and exceptional skill contributed to both The Crickets, and rock n’ roll itself, becoming such a success,” the statement continues.

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“Buddy is often heralded as the original singer-songwriter, but [Allison], too, wrote and inspired so many of the songs that would go on to be eternal classics. There’s more to be said and posted here in the coming days. For today, we think about his family and friends and wish [Allison] to rest in peace.”

Our sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Jerry 'JI' Allison, drummer in The Crickets, one of Buddy's very…

Posted by Buddy Holly on Monday, August 22, 2022

Born in Hillsboro, Texas in 1939, Allison was one of the original four members of The Crickets. He and Holly formed the group in 1957 alongside bassist Joe B. Mauldin and guitarist Niki Sullivan. The latter would leave the group shortly afterwards, leading them to continue as a trio.

As the tribute shared to Holly’s social media notes, Allison played a significant role in the composition of many of Holly’s most well-known songs. The pair co-wrote 1956’s ‘That’ll Be The Day’, and 1957’s ‘Peggy Sue’ alongside Norman Petty.

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Following Holly’s untimely death in 1959, Allison and Mauldin continued to tour and record under the Crickets banner, with a revolving cast of guests and collaborators throughout – Allison being the only constant member. Musicians to have performed on records issued after Holly’s death include Earl Sinks, Sonny Curtis, Glen D. Hardin and Jerry Naylor.

Mauldin died in 2015 from cancer, and a year later, Allison – joined by a wide array of The Crickets’ former members – performed at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, the site of Holly’s final performance. Shortly after it, Allison announced that the special show marked The Crickets’ final performance.

Jerry Allison performing with the Crickets in 2002
Jerry Allison performing with the Crickets in 2002. Credit: Charles Paul Harris/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Among those who have paid tribute to Allison are Blondie drummer Clem Burke and the Mountain Goats and Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster. The latter called Allison’s playing on the Crickets’ late 1957 performance of ‘Peggy Sue’ on The Ed Sullivan Show “the greatest drumming ever televised”.

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