The Texas woman who inspired the 1958 Buddy Holly song “Peggy Sue” has died at a Lubbock hospital.
Peggy Sue Gerron Rackham of Lubbock died Monday at University Medical Center, according to UMC spokesman Eric Finley. She was 78. The family gave the hospital permission to confirm the death but asked that no additional information be released, Finley said Tuesday (Oct. 2).
Peggy Sue Gerron in 2008 released her autobiography Whatever Happened to Peggy Sue?: A Memoir by Buddy Holly’s Peggy Sue to mark the 50th anniversary of the song.
Gerron, while promoting her autobiography, said material for the memoir came from about 150 diary entries she made during the time she knew Holly. Gerron was born in Olton, Texas, but moved to Lubbock where she attended high school and met Holly and his friends.
“I wanted to give him [Holly] his voice. It’s my book, my memoirs,” she said about her book, according to a 2008 Associated Press story. “We were very, very good friends. He was probably one of the best friends I ever had.”
She married drummer Jerry Allison, from Holly’s rock ‘n’ roll band The Crickets. The couple later divorced.
Her son-in-law, Tom Stathos, on Monday reminisced and told KCBD-TV in Lubbock that the song “Peggy Sue” initially had a different name. “It was originally going to be Cindy Lou [Holly’s niece] and that he [Allison] wanted to impress Peggy Sue so he got Buddy to change the name.”
Holly wrote several other popular songs, including “That’ll Be the Day” and “Maybe Baby.” He also penned the song-sequel “Peggy Sue Got Married.”
Holly died in a Feb. 3, 1959, plane crash in Iowa that also killed Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson.
The 1978 movie The Buddy Holly Story featured Gary Busey in the title role.
A 1986 movie called Peggy Sue Got Married featured actress Kathleen Turner as a character also named Peggy Sue who faints during her 25th high school reunion then believes she’s gone back in time and reconsiders how her life turned out.
The Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock pays tribute to the singer, musician and songwriter described as “Lubbock’s most famous native son.”