Peggy Sue Gerron Rackham, the inspiration behind Buddy Holly's 1957 hit "Peggy Sue" has died at a Lubbock hospital. She was 78.
Though she inspired the tune about "a love so rare and true," she wasn't Holly's love. Gerron, who was born in Olton, Texas, was attending the same high school as Holly when she began dating Jerry Allison, the drummer for Holly's band The Crickets.
In 2009, Gerron told the BBC about the first time she met the music icon. Holly was running late for a gig and accidentally knocked Gerron over in their Lubbock high school hall.
"He ran over to me, guitar in one hand, amp in the other, and said, 'I don't have time to pick you up, but you sure are pretty'," Gerron said.
Peggy Sue's relationship with Allison would go down in rock 'n' roll history. Allison had written a song with Holly and Norman Petty titled "Cindy Lou." However, during a brief breakup with Gerron, Allison convinced his co-writers to change the song's title to "Peggy Sue." After high school, Gerron and Allison were married. The couple later divorced.
The song was released in 1957 and hit No. 3 on the charts. It's considered one of the greatest rock 'n' roll songs of all time and has been covered by John Lennon, the Beach Boys and Waylon Jennings.
The real Peggy Sue has worked to keep Holly's memory and the rock n roll of the '50s alive. According to her personal website, Gerron traveled with The Crickets after Holly's 1959 death and appeared as an act on Roger Miller's King of the Road television series.
In 2008, she published the book Whatever Happened to Peggy Sue: A Memoir By Buddy Holly's Peggy Sue.
Immortalized in song as the quintessential American girl, Gerron went on to become a dental assistant, a licensed ham radio operator, the first licensed woman plumber in California and a spokesperson for the U.S. National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Holly died in a 1959 plane crash that also took the lives of Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson.
Clear Lake, a biopic about Holly's life and legacy, is currently in the works.
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