Real Peggy Sue, of 1958 Buddy Holly song fame, dies at 78

FILE - In this Jan. 11, 2008, file photo, Peggy Sue Gerron unveils her new book "What Ever Happened to Peggy Sue" during a press conference in Tyler, Texas. Gerron, the Texas woman who inspired the 1958 Buddy Holly song "Peggy Sue" has died at a Lubbock hospital. Gerron Rackham of Lubbock died Monday, Oct. 1, 2018, at University Medical Center. She was 78. (Jaime R. Carrero/Tyler Morning Telegraph, via AP, File)
Jaime R. Carrero/Tyler Morning Telegraph via Associated Press/File
Ms. Gerron wrote ‘‘Whatever Happened to Peggy Sue?: A Memoir by Buddy Holly’s Peggy Sue.’’

LUBBOCK, Texas — The Texas woman who inspired the 1958 Buddy Holly song ‘‘Peggy Sue’’ died Monday at a Lubbock hospital. She was 78.

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.

Ms. Gerron, while promoting her autobiography, said material for the memoir came from about 150 diary entries she made during the time she knew Holly. Ms. 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,’’ she said of the book in 2008. ‘‘We were very, very good friends. He was probably one of the best friends I ever had.’’

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She married drummer Jerry Allison, from Holly’s rock ‘n’ roll band The Crickets. The couple eventually divorced.

Her son-in-law, Tom Stathos, on Monday reminisced and told KCBD-TV in Lubbock that the song initially had a different title. ‘‘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.


A 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.