Same As It Ever Was: Buddy Holly Tries To Reason With His Label Boss

The secret recordings.

Disagreements between artist and labels have been happening since the invention of the recorded disc. Way back in 1956, Buddy Holly recorded several songs in Nashville including  "That'll Be The Day". But but producer Owen Bradley reportedly hated rock n' roll, and the results were less than exciting.

Later Holly re-recorded "That'll Be The Day" at a different studio with his own arrangement. But…

according to his contract with Decca, he couldn't release it, because they owned all rights to his music and wanted to recoup their investment somehow.

Buddy called Decca to plead with them, and secretly taped his conversation. They refused
to give him the rights and eventually he circumvented the process by releasing the song under another name (The Crickets) on a subsidiary of Decca. But along the way Holly went through the hell that too many artists have gone through who participated in the old label system.

Share on:


  1. I’m getting really sick of this conversation being used as an example of the “hell that too many artists have gone through who participated in the old label system.”
    Why would any company make an expensive investment in a recording session and then just let the artist walk away with the recording? The company owns it. They paid for it.
    As much as I love buddy, this speaks to a lack of business savvy on the artists part as well as a lack of creative understanding on the label’s part.

  2. of course he can’t take the recording, he knew that, and if I am correct, he just wanted to re-record the actual composition, the song, which, like in many contracts, he was not allowed to do for another 5 years.
    but still, contract is a contract

  3. Bob, as the other commenter mentioned, Buddy wasn’t trying to get the recordings…he was trying to avoid being sued for re-recording the songs on his own elsewhere. Basically his contract said that anyone other than him in the entire world could sing and record these songs.
    really classy. that’s a golf clap for you.

  4. Classy maybe not, but at the end of the day when pen hits paper a deal is a deal.
    I understand the need for this clause in recording contracts because if you record your big hit for a label right before your contract expires they don’t want you to re-record the same thing right after and get that share of the income.
    What an artist needs to do in that case is add a ‘release clause’ that says the label has 6 months or a year to release the song or the artist gets the rights back to re-record.
    don’t sign on the line if you can’t do the time
    make sense ?

  5. Why would I invest in a recording/artist when the artist I invested in can re-record the same tune with someone else to compete with what I paid for.

  6. Has the current generation seen the 1974 movie “Phantom of the Paradise?” (Is it even out on DVD?) For some reason I am reminded of it today. 🙂

  7. For Bob up at the top: the record company didn’t pay for it – they advanced the money to the artist and then recouped their investment from record sales. Only, after the costs have all been paid off, they STILL own it. Name me another business where somebody pays to create something and then doesn’t own it.

Comments are closed.