The Buddy Holly Story (1978) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Buddy Holly Story1978

The Buddy Holly Story (1978)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Buddy Holly Story Photos

Movie Info

Gary Busey's sterling performance as Buddy Holly graces this entertaining film biography of this pioneering rock and roll performer. The film follows the trajectory of Holly's musical career from his beginnings in Lubbock, Texas, through his troubled recording career, to his national fame after the success of his hit "That'll Be the Day." As Holly struggles up the road to success, the film also chronicles the tension between him and his backup band, The Crickets (Don Stroud and Charles Martin Smith), along with his love for his Puerto Rican bride Maria (Maria Richwine).

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Gary Busey
as Buddy Holly
Charles Martin Smith
as Ray Bob Simmons
Don Stroud
as Jesse Charles
Gloria Irizarry
as Mrs. Santiago
Albert Popwell
as Eddie Foster
Amy Johnston
as Jenny Lou
James Beach
as Mr. Wilson
Paul Mooney
as Sam Cooke
Bill P. Murry
as Desk Clerk
Jody Berry
as Engineer Sam
Bob Christopher
as Cadillac Salesman
Arch Johnson
as Mr. Holly
Neva Patterson
as Mrs. Holly
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Critic Reviews for The Buddy Holly Story

All Critics (30) | Top Critics (7)

The film is an entertaining chronicle of Holly's brief but productive and influential career as a pioneering rock 'n' roll composer and singer.

May 23, 2019 | Full Review…

The plotting of this 1978 biopic is contrived, and director Steve Rash's feeling for Buddy Holly's time and place is virtually nil, but Gary Busey's performance is astonishing-less as an interpretation than as a total physical transformation.

May 23, 2019 | Full Review…

It's Gary Busey's galvanizing solo performance that gives meaning to an otherwise shapeless and bland feature-length film about the American rock-and-roll star who was killed in a plane crash in 1959.

May 23, 2019 | Full Review…

The facts in this pop biography are often hopelessly askew, but the story is carried by the unadulterated power of Gary Busey's original and insightful performance.

April 22, 2013

The Buddy Holly Story smacks of realism in almost every respect, from the dramaturgy involving Holly and his back-up band, The Crickets, to the verisimilitude of the musical numbers.

March 26, 2009 | Full Review…

Fine biopic which showcases a brilliant performance by Busey as Holly, and conveys a real, raw feeling for the music.

June 24, 2006 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Buddy Holly Story


If you want to see the promise and potential of Gary Busey before a drug-induced psychosis enveloped his entire being, this is the film to watch. Busey's portrayal of the legendary rock-n-roll pioneer is absolutely brilliant. He even sings all of Buddy's songs himself. Gary Busey is a walking, talking testament to the belief that the line between genius and madness is a thin one. Much like Buddy Holly himself, Busey is a star that burned out all too quickly.

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer


Probably the best work Gary Busey has ever done.


Super Reviewer

Gary Busey not only did his own singing, but even lost 32 lbs to play Buddy Holly in this sensational musical biography of the singer from Lubbock Texas. Despite reportedly playing fast and loose with facts, the film is extremely entertaining. Busey was rightfully nominated for an Oscar for his effective portrayal.

Mark Hobin
Mark Hobin

Super Reviewer

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