JOHN PICKERING is holding two Buddy Holly & The Picks LPs, one CD and the "Chirpin' Crickets" Brunswick album. The LPs are:
"Buddy Holly & The Picks - 'The Voices of the Crickets'" (1992)
"Buddy Holly & The Picks - 'The Original Chirping Sound'" (1986)
"The Chirping Crickets" Brunswick (1957
The CD is: "Buddy Holly & The Picks in 2000 AD" (2000)
Page updated: May, 20091. November 10, 2007, The Picks were inducted into the 2007 New Mexico Music Hall of Fame in Albuquerque, NM for the work they did with Buddy Holly and The Crickets.
2. The West Texas Music Hall of Fame The 2006 Music Pioneer Award Presented to THE PICKS (John Pickering, Bill Pickering & Bob Lapham).
3. The Clear Lake, Iowa Surf Ballroom invited John and Vicky Pickering to be guests at the 2009 "50 Winters Later" commemoration of the airplane crash and deaths of Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens.
4. The Texas State Senate in the Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas on 02-23-09 honored The Picks (John Pickering, Bob Lapham and the late Bill Pickering) for their musical and artistic contributions to the State of Texas for over 50 years with a resolution that was read in the Senate by Senator Robert Duncan of Lubbock, Buddy HollyŐs hometown. The web site is: http://www.senate.state.tx.us/avarchive/ Click on "Feb 23 Senate Session". Then advance to 26.09 minutes. Additional sites can be found on the Internet including: http://www.myfoxaustin.com/dpp/news/022309_the_crickets_finally_recognized.
5. The Picks are in the Lubbock (TX) Music Honor Roll in the www.jerrynaylor.com.
6. On 02-24-09 in New Braunfels, TX, John and Vicky Pickering visited world famous writer, artist, and photographer Paul Heidelberg. Mr. Heidelberg took photos, videos and interviewed John. See: http://www.musicoftheworldxxi.blogspot.com:80/ and www.paulheidelberg.com.
7. In early 2009, Bob Lapham released his fifth published book a novel, EthanŐs Keys. It is edgy fiction bulwarked by religion ("looking for Christ in all the wrong places") but also including themes such as adventure, adultery, homosexuality, romance and murder. See http://www.ethanskeys.com. Other books by Bob are Twenty Years of Life Begins at Forty, What Made Wyatt Urp, The Wild Blue and Family Too, and Meet Me At The River Buddy Holly.
On January 1, 2000, Pick Records released a new CD entitled "Buddy Holly & The Picks In 2000 AD" (PCD-3331; 2000). It includes Holly and The Picks on the following 15 songs: 1. Bo Diddley, 2. Love Is Strange, 3. You're The One, 4. Moondreams, 5. Words Of Love, 6. Raining In My Heart, 7. Little Baby, 8. Listen To Me, 9. Crying, Waiting, Hoping, 10. Learning The Game, 11. What To Do, 12. Love's Made A Fool Of You, 13. Come Back Baby, 14. Take Your Time, and 15. John Pickering's tribute song "Forever 22". See address below for contact information.
10 FACTS ABOUT BUDDY HOLLY,
THE CRICKETS, AND THE PICKS
FACT ONE: Buddy Holly was presented as one of a group and was not named on the labels of original Brunswick "Crickets" releases. Along with other instrumentalists and singers, his first session at Norman Petty's studio in Clovis, New Mexico occurred after weeks of practice at Lubbock, Texas. It was a demo session on 2/25/57, and it resulted in 2 songs, one of which was "That'll Be The Day" (already recorded by Holly on 7/22/56 as an unreleased solo for Decca). Instrumentalists were Buddy Holly (lead guitar), J.I. Allison (drums), Larry Welborn (bass) [Joe B. Mauldin came later], and Niki Sullivan (rhythm guitar). Singers were Buddy Holly (lead), aspiring solo artist Gary Tollett, his wife Ramona, and Niki Sullivan. (Holly and Tollett had each agreed to play/sing on the other's demo as an even trade). Although the "demo" was turned down by several companies (including Coral) over a period of 3 months, the group-sound demo of "That'll Be The Day" was reluctantly (by some) released on Brunswick (a small "jazz" subsidiary of Decca/Coral on 5/27/57). Artistry was attributed to "The Crickets - vocal group with orchestra." The release slowly gained popularity, entering the charts 2-1/2 months later on 8/12/57. The "Crickets" had a vocal-group hit, but no vocal group, as such.
FACT TWO: One month before the "demo" charted, Norman Petty and Buddy Holly asked "The Picks" (Bill Pickering, John Pickering, and Bob Lapham) to overdub a Buddy Holly solo called "Oh Boy! Seasoned professionals at 30 (Bill) and 24 (John), the Pickering Brothers (nicknamed "The Picks") were well known by both. John asked Texas Tech friend Bob Lapham (22) to sing baritone, and on 7/13/57 (Saturday), the Picks made short work of the "Oh Boy" overdub, with Bill and John arranging the harmony vocals. Thus was recorded "Crickets' hit number two" (released 10/27/57; charted 11/25/57). Thereafter, the biggest "Crickets" hits would be Holly solos that were harmonized and overdubbed by the Picks, while Holly and the instrumental Crickets were performing elsewhere.
FACT THREE: On October 12, 13, and 14, 1957 (Saturday through Monday), while Buddy and the instrumental Crickets were in San Diego and Fresno, California, the Picks returned to Petty's 7th Street Clovis Studio and overdubbed 8 additional Holly solos with the promised reward of "Fame By Association For Career Enhancement." Notable among these 8 songs are "Maybe Baby" (released 2/12/58; charted 4/21/58) and "Tell Me How" (hit flip side). With harmony overdubs, Holly solos were released as "The Crickets" on Brunswick; without overdubbed voices, they were released as "Buddy Holly" on Coral. Harmony voices were the only difference. Nine "Crickets" recordings of 1957 and many other "Buddy Holly And The Picks" recordings since 1984 have one thing in common: they all feature the voice of Buddy Holly overdubbed with the sound of the Picks. Included in the former 9 are most of the biggest group-sound ("Cricket") hits released in 1957 and early 1958.
FACT FOUR: The 9 Pick's-overdubbed 1957 songs were included in the first and only group-sound album released while Buddy Holly was alive: "The 'Chirping' Crickets" album (Brunswick BL54038; 11/27/57). As with all the other "Holly/Crickets" releases, the artists were listed as "The Crickets - vocal group with orchestra." Only Holly and the instrumental Crickets were pictured on the front cover, and the liner notes attributed the singing to them. The Picks were not credited for the above songs, nor were the Tolletts for their two album songs, including the first hit: "That'll Be The Day."
FACT FIVE: On the strength of the original 1957 "The Chirping Crickets" album, the "Crickets" were voted "Best Vocal Group of 1957" in both the USA and Great Britain. Except for Buddy on all and Niki on 3, the in-person recipients did not sing on any of the songs. Until a reissue of the "Chirping" album in 1987, the Picks remained uncredited and unknown by some historians, most USA fans and almost all the media. Exceptions were fan clubs such as the "Buddy Holly Memorial Society" (Bill Griggs) in the U.S.A., as well as devout Holly fans and "Rock and Roll" experts in Europe, including John Beecher of England.
Bill and John Pickering finally regrouped in 1969 as "The Pickering Brothers" of Houston, Texas. After 12 years of near-anonymous international vocal success as "voices of the Crickets", John and Bill Pickering had the opportunity to record again. Their first effort was a hit on Pete Drakes' Stop Records out of Nashville, Tennessee. There were successive turntable hits, beginning with "Proud Mary" (#1 in major markets), then "Words", followed by others. Due to the lack of "Crickets" credits, the Buddy Holly connection had virtually no bearing on the Picks' nor Pickering Brothers' careers.
On October 8, 1974, at age 47, Bill Pickering (who was called "Buddy's Hero" by L.O. Holley, because of Bill's good looks and clear high tenor voice) suffered a near-fatal ruptured brain aneurysm. This effectively ended recordings by the Pickering Brothers as a duet. For 18 months, Bill Pickering was blind and partially paralyzed. His vision returned in 1976, but for the next 10 years, he worked very hard to regain the tenor voice that had helped launch Buddy Holly's career.
Unfortunately, the 1978 "Buddy Holly Story" movie perpetuated myths by showing the instrumental Crickets singing, and the belated 1987 reissue credits for the Picks came thirty years after the fact and 3 years after their new overdubs in 1984. A new Pick records album called "Buddy Holly and the Picks" (PA 1111) had already been released in 1986. It happened as follows:
FACT SIX: After Bill Pickering's sudden illness in 1974, John Pickering kept singing at Houston, Texas, releasing the country-oriented "The Picks 25th Anniversary" cassette (1982) for fan clubs while his brother Bill recuperated at their mother Beth's home in Lubbock. Bill Griggs (BHMS) had found Bill there in 1981, thus "finding" the Picks for the fans, 24 years after the fact. The Picks were then reunited with Bob Lapham in 1982 at the annual BHMS convention in Lubbock, Texas.
FACT SEVEN: In 1984, after hearing from Maria Elena Holly that Buddy had planned to record with them again, the original Picks (with a recovered Bill Pickering) overdubbed additional Holly solos. Original masters were sent from storage vaults. Then, tragically, Bill Pickering died six months later on January 25, 1985, after a short illness. At Bill's last request, 9 of the new overdubs were released on the first "Buddy Holly and the Picks" album (Pick Records; PA 1111; 5/15/86) and sold worldwide.
FACT EIGHT: 12 more of the new overdubs were released for the first time in 1992 in a 24-song album called "Buddy Holly and the Picks: 'The Voices of the Crickets'" (Pick Records; PLP, PCD, PCA 2221; 1992, USA). 1000 copies were available to fans as follows: (1) 1000 dual 33-1/3 LP (PLP 2221); (2) 24-song compact disc (PCD 2221); and (3) 24-song cassette (PCA 2221). Besides the 12 new harmony releases, it also contained all 9 of the earlier latter-day overdubs, 2 "Pickering Brothers" hit songs, and a Holly tribute song by John Pickering, the producer/arranger. This album, with its 12 new overdubbed releases, brought the all-time release total of Buddy Holly songs with Picks' harmony backgrounds to 30. It contained 21 latterday overdubs, excluding the original 9 overdubs released on the Holly "Crickets" album of 1957. The copyrighted sound recording is currently licensed for separate CD releases in Europe and Japan, where it is available in stores. A new 15-song album called "Buddy Holly - Forever 22" is also available, and at least one 2-CD box set contains all 39 songs currently released on Buddy Holly and The Picks" albums.
By now well known in Europe and Japan, the Picks have received greatly appreciated localized and sporadic media coverage in recent years, but no national coverage in their own country. Now listed in most books about Buddy Holly, the Picks are supportive of the music and the memory of Buddy Holly, the star.
FACT TEN: There may be more "Buddy Holly and The Picks" song-versions released in the future. Buddy Holly is the unique star, but the Picks helped him in the crucial early stages of his career with overdubbed back-up harmonies. This includes two of his three all-time biggest "Crickets" hits, including his 2nd, 3rd, and fourth formative group-sound releases. "Later" overdubs are designed to help keep buddy's memory alive and at the same time allow fans to hear more "Crickets-like" group-sound versions, as the Picks arrange background harmonies and overdub solos as they originally did. Travis Holley (Buddy's brother) recently wrote John Pickering and stated that he always knew about the Picks' contributions to Buddy's music. He wrote, "It takes the best to sing with the best."
THE ALBUM:BUDDY HOLLY LEAD VOCALS WITH HARMONIES BY THE PICKS:
1957 - "The Chirping Crickets Album" (Brunswick; BL 54038)
This is the first and only group-sound album released by Buddy Holly prior to his tragic death on February 3, 1959. The Picks overdubbed 9 Holly vocal solos (and instrumental accompaniments) with vocal harmonies in July and October, 1957 at Norman Petty's 7th Street Studio, Clovis, New Mexico. These group-sound hit versions were released as by "The Crickets," with Brunswick labels calling them a "Vocal group with orchestra." Two of the Picks, Bill Pickering and John Pickering, arranged the backup harmonies, and with Texas Tech friend, Bob Lapham, vocally backed Buddy's solos. Along with Holly, these 3 are the "vocal group" mentioned above. In other words, the uncredited Picks, harmony singers on 9 of Holly's first 12 Crickets' releases, are "voices of the Crickets" behind Buddy Holly on this premier album which won for the singers the award for "Best Vocal Group of 1957" in both the USA and Great Britain. The current touring "Crickets," who left Buddy in October of 1958, include none of the original vocalists and only 2 of the original "orchestra": the drummer and the bass player. Songs with Picks' backgrounds included on the album are the original hit versions of: "Oh Boy," "Maybe Baby," "Tell Me How," "It's too Late," "You've Got Love," "An Empty Cup (And A Broken Date)," "Send Me Some Lovin'", "Last Night", and "Rock Me My Baby." It is a fact that literally hundreds of Buddy Holly releases worldwide (including movie soundtracks, TV, etc.) from 1957 to 1998 contain the harmony voices of The Picks on one or more of the above. The "Chirping Crickets" album was reissued in 1987 with full Picks' credits, 30 years after the fact.
The Pickering Family
JOHN MURCHISON "POP" PICKERING: Born near Murchison, Texas in 1900. John was a child prodigy singer. Born at seven months in a wagon bed on the way to a doctor, he never lost the urge to travel and spent his life as an itinerant musician and singer. He sang solos from age 5, had "perfect" pitch, could read music at 13, quit school at 14, didn't like farming, taught voice and sight reading at 19, and through the 1920s and early 1930s. He could sing everything from bass to high tenor and became a professional singer with the Vaughan Quartet, representing the James D. Vaughan Music Company of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee (founded about 1913) - a gospel music forerunner of Stamps and Stamps-Baxter Music Companies. "Pop" taught music "schools" by shaped notes all over the southwest in school and church auditoriums. "Schools" usually lasted all week in the summer, and many people learned to sing and read music by attending. In small communities, everyone in town would attend.
Pop, Sonny, John, Bill, Mom
BETH "MOM" NIXON PICKERING - In 1926, Pop married an "alto" singer, with whom he had sung many duets at "singing" conventions and minstrel shows. Her name was Ida Elizabeth Nixon, and her father was music director at First Baptist Church, Ben Wheeler, Van Zandt County, Texas. She ws 19 and a great singer. They met at Murchison, Texas where she was attending High School at age 17. They harmonized beautifully, but her grandfather, with whom she lived at the time, strongly disliked John M. and wanted college for "Lizzie". Always strong-willed, she eloped with John and they made music together. They had two sons.
BILLY DUANE PICKERING: Born April 5, 1927 near Murchison, Texas to John M. and Beth "Lizzie" Pickering. Joined father in radio in Tyler, Texas at age 5. Real "pro" at age 9. Professional radio quartet called McClain-Pickering Quartet, until joined by little brother Johnny and "Mom" (Beth) in 1938.
JOHN WINTON "JOHNNY" PICKERING: Born March 8, 1933 near Ben Wheeler and Murchison, Texas at farm house. Recorded Murchison, Henderson County, Texas birth. Joined family on radio at Beaumont, Texas at age 5. Tyler, Texas at age 6: first called Pickering Family Quartet - "Mom, Pop, Billy and Johnny." In 1938, moved to Lubbock, Texas to radio station KFYO. In 1939, to Clovis, New Mexico Station KICA: "The Pickering Family: Mom, Pop, Bill and John". All were daily radio shows, and personal appearances all over the west in 1940 - young pianist on KICA, aged 14. Billy Pickering and Norman Petty were at school together in Clovis. The Pickering family moved back and forth from Lubbock to Clovis to Houston to Lubbock - always on daily radio and in personal appearances with all types of songs, but lots of gospel, sometimes with Texas guitarist Sonny Stewart. John Murchison died in 1953, and Bill and John sang professionally as soloists and in radio and TV groups, until in 1957, Bill and John Pickering, with friend Bob Lapham became the voices of Buddy Holly's 1957 Crickets in Clovis, New Mexico at Norman Petty's recording studio on such hit songs as "Oh Boy" and "Maybe Baby".
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