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Jerry Allison, drummer of Buddy Holly’s band The Crickets, dead at 82

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Jerry Allison in 2002; Charles Paul Harris/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Jerry Allison, the longtime drummer and last surviving original member of the late Buddy Holly‘s backing group The Crickets, died Monday at the age of 82.

Allison’s death was announced in a post on Holly’s official Facebook page.

“Our sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Jerry ‘JI’ Allison, drummer in The Crickets, one of Buddy’s very closest friends, and the inspiration to drummers for decades since, who passed away today,” the note read.

The message continues, “JI 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. Buddy is often heralded as the original singer-songwriter, but JI, too, wrote and inspired so many of the songs that would go on to be eternal classics.”

Holly formed The Crickets in early 1957 with Allison, Niki Sullivan on rhythm guitar and Joe B. Mauldin on bass. Allison is credited with co-writing two of Holly’s most enduring tunes, “That’ll Be the Day” and “Peggy Sue,” which peaked at #1 and #3, respectively, on the Billboard pop singles chart.

After Holly’s February 1959 death in the tragic plane crash that also took the lives of The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens, Allison played with various lineups of The Crickets for decades.

Allison also co-wrote the song “More than I Can Say,” which The Crickets recorded after Holly’s death in 1959, and later became a hit for Bobby Vee in 1961 and Leo Sayer in 1980.

Allison also became an in-demand session musician who lent his talents to recordings by The Everly Brothers, Vee, Johnny Burnette, Eddie Cochran, Johnny Rivers, Paul McCartney, Waylon Jennings, Nanci Griffith and many others.

Allison was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Crickets in 2012. Holly had been inducted separately in 1986.

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