With all the hits Buddy Holly produced (Rave On, Thatll be the Day, Oh Boy, Maybe Baby), its easy to forget he had a short-lived career. The rock-and-roll pioneers success lasted only a year-and-a-half before he died at age 22 in a plane crash in 1959.
He accomplished so much in such a short time that you wonder what he could have accomplished in a longer life span, said Ralph Krumins, who plays the star in Sierra Repertory Theatres upcoming show Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, opening March 2 in Sonora. The show kicks off the companys 2013 season.
Krumins has played Buddy Holly a couple of times before both in his native Kansas. He said audiences always love the show.
The musical tells how the young Texas man helped create a new genre of music by combining country and jazz.
"The story is cool," Krumins said. "Most of all, it's the music and it's that rock-and-roll concert in show form. You get this great story but throughout the show, there's great rock-and-roll numbers. When we go into the encores and big full numbers, the audience is ready to jump up on their feet and start dancing."
The musical appeals to seniors who remember the music when it came out and their grandchildren.
"Rock is cyclical," Krumins said. "All this music being done now sounds like what it was then."
As examples, modern artists such as Adele and the late Amy Winehouse recorded their hits in a retro style.
Krumins learned to play the guitar the first time he played Holly. For Sierra Rep's production, he and all the other cast members will play instruments.
"There are 15 of us and they are 15 of the most talented SOBs I've ever met in my life," he said, adding that his castmates can play everything from fiddle to trumpet to drums.
The show features Roberto Araujo as Ritchie Valens and Michael Misko as the "Big Bopper," the two other pop artists who died with Holly in the fatal plane crash.
Krumins said he's particularly impressed with Alex "Skeez" Nava, Joaquin David and Brendan Quirk, who play the musicians in Holly's band The Crickets.
"I look forward to going to rehearsal and I'm sad when it's over," Krumins said.
Krumins said he loves playing Holly's music.
"It's groundbreaking," he said. "It's something absolutely new. It's so simple and so catchy and that's why it stands the test of time. Elvis is the king of rock-and-roll but Buddy is the father. Elvis made it popular and huge but Buddy did a lot of the foundation work two guitars, a bass and a drum. That's what a lot of the bands today do, too."