When, after Buddy Holly’s tragic demise, Jerry Naylor was addressed with the words “We want YOU to be the new lead singer of The Crickets…?”, the young man was gobsmacked. Once he had put his initial fear aside and bravely stepped into the shoes of the late rock ‘n’ roll icon, there was no way back. The rest, as they say, is history.

Over the year, fans of the original Crickets bestowed Naylor with the same loyalty as they had done with Holly, and they came to love and respect his sincerity and passion for the music.
Naylor hailed from a small town in Texas where his foster dad ran a local radio station. He witnessed the launch of many a career, from Elvis to Roy Orbison and of course… Buddy Holly! Little did Jerry now back then that one day, he would be amongst their ranks…

A Grammy nominee himself, he was also the co-founder of one of the biggest country & western labels. Above all, he is the honorary custodian of a Foundation celebrating ‘The Rockabilly Legends’. The Foundation awards scholarships to talented but impoverished students so that they may be able to pursue their chosen career.

The Crickets are credited with influencing the careers of many of the legendary British rock acts, including Elton John and the Beatles. The Beatles publicly state that they named themselves after The Crickets because of their admiration for the group. It comes therefore as little surprise that the recent launch of the UK branch of The Rockabilly Legends Foundation has direct links to Sir Paul McCartney’s LIPA Foundation.
To celebrate the UK launch, Jerry Naylor released this brand new record celebrating the 50th anniversary of his time as the lead singer of The Crickets. There are 18 newly recorded tracks to enjoy, and one track – ‘I Still Love You Peggy Sue’ – was a recent single release. In fact, it brought a tear to the eye of the real Peggy Sue, so touched was she!

The tracks are new takes on old classics, as well as some brand new songs, including the aforementioned ‘Peggy Sue’. It’s charmingly old school rock ‘n’ roll, with topics that must seem innocent to modern-day audiences… The chorus of the very catchy ‘Beautiful Girl’ stands for what most of the songs are about: “Hey there baby, what you say… maybe? We can hit a coffee shop and have ourselves a soda pop… we can get married and have ourselves a family…” Oh, how quaint and simple it was back then!

‘Brown Eyes’, ‘My Little Girl’ and ‘Please Don’t Walk From Me’ are mellow offerings with Naylor’s voice at the forefront. Other numbers like the upbeat ‘Teardrops Fall Like Rain’ and of course ‘That’ll Be The Day’ are pure Buddy Holly, although the latter is vamped up courtesy of a soulful female backing voice. The seductive ballad ‘I Still Love You Peggy Sue’ is a love song that’s bound to bring a tear to more people than just Miss Peggy Sue.

‘I Was There When Rock Was Born’ is a musical tribute to all the rock ‘n’ roll greats and cleverly incorporates elements of the aforementioned legends… a bit of Orbison’s passion, Elvis’ guitar swagger, and Jerry Lee Lewis’ killer piano… Great little homage, that one!
‘Lonely Avenue’ sounds a captivating blend of rock (with some roll) and flaming country & western – a honkin’ track that should sound even more flaming when performed live I’d imagine.

Brilliant guitar sounds prevail on the excellent and storming ‘Nellie Fat Jackson’ with it’s mean piano solos, but things heat up big time on ‘Real Wild Child’ – covered by many an artist from Jerry Lee Lewis to Billy Idol and Iggy Pop. Of course, Jerry Ivan Allison, a member of The Crickets, released the song (written by Australian Johnny Greenan) in 1958! It goes without saying that Naylor offers his own take here, and boy does it sizzle!

Closing track is the Afro-American spiritual ‘Give Me Jesus’, another number covered by various artists ranging from Jeremy Camp to Elvis. Naylor’s version is beautifully performed and shows much respect to its creator (no pun intended). Still, it’s a bit of a downer after all those kicking rock ‘n’ roll tunes.