Legends of American Music
Stamp Category: Commemorative
Set: Legends of American Music (Rock ‘n’ Roll/Rhythm & Blues)
Value: 29c, First-Class postage rate
First Day of Issue: June 16, 1993
First Day City: No official First Day city. Both Cleveland, Ohio and Santa Monica, California held cancellation ceremonies, but release was nationwide on the First Day of Issue.
Quantity Issued: 14,285,715
Printed By: Stamp Venturers
Format: Semi-jumbo sheet stamp; printed in panes of 35 with six other stamps; 5 columns across and seven rows down.
Printing Method: Photogravure
Why the stamp was issued: The Buddy Holly stamp was issued as part of the Rock ‘n’ Roll/Rhythm & Blues se-tenant set of seven. This was the first full set in the Legends of American Music Series.
About the stamp design: The designer of the Buddy Holly stamp was Mark Stutzman, who also designed the Elvis, Bill Haley, and Ritchie Valens stamp in this set. Art direction was by Howard Paine.
Calligrapher Julien Water did the typography (lettering) on the sheet’s top selvage. The selvage lettering includes the full name of the Legends of American Music Series in small upper-case letters. The Rock ‘n’ Roll/Rhythm & Blues lettering is in an edgy, exciting typeface befitting the legends of two important musical styles.
Special design details: All seven stamps on the Rock ‘n’ Roll/Rhythm & Blues sheet, including Buddy Holly have some design differences from their booklet-formatted stamps issued the same day. There is no thin frame line around the images on the sheet stamps, while there is one on the booklet stamps. The line of type that runs up the left side of the sheet stamp is longer that on the booklet stamps. Some colors on the sheets are less vibrant as well.
First Day Ceremonies: First Day ceremonies were held in Cleveland, Ohio (site of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame) and at the Santa Monica Pier in California with Dick Clark, former host of American Bandstand as the emcee. These weren’t official First Day Cities because the stamps went on sale nationwide on the same day.
About the Legends of American Music Series: The Legends of American Music Series debuted on January 8, 1993 and ran until 1999. More than 70 artists are represented from all styles of music: rock and roll, rhythm and blues, country and western, jazz and pop, opera and classical, gospel and folk. In addition to individual singers and Broadway musicals, subjects include bandleaders, classical composers, Hollywood songwriters and composers, plus conductors and lyricists.
The Legends of American Music Set was a huge advancement for diversity because it honored so many Black and female artists.
The 29c “young Elvis” – #2721, kicked off the series in a big and very public way. Its design was voted on by over one million Americans, about 75% of whom favored the young Elvis over the “old Elvis” version.
History the stamp represents: As a close rival of Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly had an impact not only on American popular music. His influence was also felt on the development of rock ‘n’ roll in England, where he influenced such groups as the Rolling Stones and the Beatles.
Charles Hardin Holly was born on September 7, 1936, and raised in Texas. Holly was initially influenced by the likes of Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family. He had his beginnings as a country artist. Playing in small clubs in the Southwest, he gained a local following and was soon signed by Decca records as a country singer.
But as rock ‘n’ roll swept over the country, Holly got caught up in the wave. Deciding he had greater potential as a rock artist, Decca had him record both solo and as the lead singer of a group called the Crickets. Both ventures proved to be extremely successful. In 1957 his song “Peggy Sue” hit the charts and the Crickets’ “That’ll Be the Day” sold over a million copies. From 1955 to 1958, Holly and the Crickets had their own radio show and toured throughout the U.S. and abroad. It was on one such tour that Holly lost his life, along with Ritchie Valens and J.P. Richardson, when their plane crashed near Fargo, North Dakota. Buddy Holly was just 22 years old.