It was 1956 and at the urging of Roy Orbison, young Buddy Knox went to Clovis, New Mexico, not to see the Flying Saucer Aliens, but to record in Norman Petty's famous Studio where Orbison and Buddy Holly had begun their careers. Buddy had grown up in Happy, Texas, and attended West Texas State University, but his heart was in the new Rockabilly craze sweeping the Country.
With him were his backing band The Rhythm Orchids, Don Lanier and the soon to be famous Jimmy Bowen.They were there to record a tune called, "Party Doll" which Buddy said he had written behind a Haystack back home in Happy. I must tell you this is right out of an Alan Freed Movie. The band brought with them Knox's sister and two other girls, one from Amarillo, to sing back up.
Oh, and a girl from Clovis High also came along to play Cymbal...it was a much simpler time.So with records pressed a Disc Jockey in Amarillo started to play the tune and it became a regional hit. Word of the song's success reached the ears of Morris Levy at Roulette Records in New York and he picked up the tune and released "Party Doll" on Roulette in 1957 (If it was a typical Levy deal, Buddy and the Boys didn't make much money, (but Morris felt that by making their record a hit they'd get paid gigs and TV appearances).
That all did happen and "Party Doll" went to #1 on what was then called The Top 100 Chart for one week. Buddy Knox would be with several more Labels, including Liberty where he was produced by the legendary Snuff Garrett who also did Bobby Vee and Johnny Rivers, and had several Chart hits, (Including #9 "Hula Love") but he wouldn't grab the Golden Ring at #1 again.
Fun Fact: Buddy Holly's Crickets Drummer Jerry Allison said that the 'Drums" on "Party Doll" were a guy beating on a Cardboard Box, and Holly liked it so much he had Allison do the same thing on the recording of their hit, "Not Fade Away," but did not have a Cymbal girl.
Buddy Knox enjoyed a long career, outliving other Texans Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly, and a very supportive fan-base. He was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall Of Fame as a pioneer of that Musical Form and "Party Doll" was voted one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. Buddy
Knox died in 1999 at age 65 from Terminal Lung Cancer...a lifelong smoker.For the TDR-Tribute Video to Buddy Knox, Scott found an amazingly well preserved clip of him and The Orchids performing his Big Hit at the time, "Party Doll," Live in 1957 on what appears to be Ed Sullivan's Sunday Night Show. Picture is O.K. and the Sound is also pretty good.
A version of this post originally appeared on The Don Rocks Facebook page. For more stories like these every day, join us on Facebook and Twitter.