Back to Lubbock #2: That Man In The Shadows

The original lineup of The Shadows.

The original lineup of The Shadows; Jet Harris, Hank Marvin, Tony Meehan and Bruce Welch.

Probably the first offspring of Holly’s look was that of guitarist Hank Marvin of The Shadows. He had enough of the hallmarks of Holly’s look to pass for him in a lineup: slight frame, long chin, slick dark hair fallen a little unruly in the front, and the trademark dark-framed glasses.

What made him uniquely closer to Holly was his sound and what he used to make it. The Shadows started as Cliff Richards’ backing band in England in the 1950s, first as The Drifters and then as the Shadows. American pop music wasn’t easy for kids in the UK to come by. Import records were expensive, and radio airplay of American pop was infrequent if nonexistent. It was easier for British teens to get American musical styles from a local band. The Shadows didn’t disappoint.

After hearing Buddy Holly as a teen, Marvin switched from playing banjo and piano to guitar. Holly’s signature instrument was the 1958 Fender Stratocaster. Following his cue, in 1959 Cliff Richard had a Fender Stratocaster imported for his lead guitarist, the first in the UK (It was Richard’s property, but Marvin is known for being the first to have one in the UK. Save this tidbit for a bar bet sometime). The guitar was a color Fender called “Fiesta Red,” although band mate Bruce Welch later described it as salmon pink. In black and white photos, it didn’t matter. Between the glasses, the suit, the finely-boned face and the rare Fender Strat, any promotional picture of theirs would be closer to the American rock and roll image that the kids were craving than that of any of their competitors.

Hank Marvin’s love of Holly’s music stuck with him his whole life, best exemplified in his 2004 tribute album, Hank Plays Holly.


~ by manifenestration on August 16, 2008.

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