It was an error in scheduling, possibly, but the six days that Buddy Holly & The Crickets appeared at the historic African-American Apollo Theatre that Rock ’n’ Roll could not be confined to one race, gender, performer, or audience. (The revelation had to wait through an awkward show or two before a reluctant 100% black crowd, until Buddy & Jerry & Joe & Niki decided to scrap their usual set and go for broke with a killer rendition of “Bo Diddley.” Once the audience saw the love they boys had for R&B as well as R&R, it was magical.)
This event made #2 on the list of 10 Musical Acts That Define The History Of The Apollo Theatre compiled in 2014 by The Delete Bin. I include the BH part of the article below, but the whole list is fascinating. Check it out here.
2. Buddy Holly & The Crickets
Rock ‘n’ roll is not a type of music. It was a social phenomenon that threaded together music of many American cultures by the 1950s, and continues to be that today on a global scale. To prove the point of the range of rock ‘n’ roll music of their era, Lubbock Texas band Buddy Holly and The Crickets performed at the Apollo Theatre in August of 1957. Expectations were certainly undercut in the days before the civil rights movement, when audiences and musicians of various races simply did not mix. But, thanks to their historic show at The Apollo, this rule was gloriously broken.
Buddy Holly and his bandmates were the first white rock ‘n’ roll group to play the venue, rightly known as a center of African-American culture and artistry. Their appearance helped to demonstrate how that artistic reach went far beyond the confines of that particular culture, and that rock ‘n’ roll was indeed here to stay, in part because of its defiance about how those of different races and cultures were once expected to connect (or not) to each other. Since then and among many other rock acts, John Lennon, Blondie, The Arctic Monkeys, and Metallica have played the Apollo, very aware of how rock music owes a debt to the venerable venue and the musical traditions it represents, welcoming acts of all cultural backgrounds even if it remains an African-American institution.