Peggy Sued over Buddy book

Woman who lent her name to one of rock'n'roll's most famous songs threatened with court by the singer's wife
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The Independent US

Two of the most legendary names in rock history are locked in a dispute that could yet end in court. The widow of Buddy Holly is taking legal action against the woman who gave her name to one of the singer's greatest hits over a book she has written. If it does not resolve itself, then Mrs Buddy Holly could well sue Peggy Sue.

The cause is the imminent launch of Whatever Happened to Peggy Sue?, the memoirs of Peggy Sue Gerron, a 67-year-old magazine writer and grandmother, who as a high school student was the girlfriend (and later wife) of Jerry Allison, drummer with Holly's band, the Crickets.

In the book, according to Maria Elena Holly and her lawyer, Gerron makes as yet unspecified claims about her friendship with the star, who died in a plane crash in 1959.

Mrs Holly said the book was unauthorised and would harm Holly's name, her reputation and that of her company, Holly Properties. "It's very interesting that this woman makes up all these stories," Mrs Holly said from her home in Dallas. "He never, never considered Peggy Sue a friend."

Ms Gerron, who lives in Lubbock, Texas, says that material for the book came from about 150 diary entries she made during the time she knew Holly. "I wanted to give him his voice. It's my book, my memoirs," she said from Tyler, where her publishing company held a news conference defending her right to write her biography. "We were very, very good friends. He was probably one of the best friends I ever had."

A promotional website, peggysuebook.com, claims the book "corrects untruths and rumours" and promises revelations about the "close friendship" that she had with Holly.

Tantalisingly, the blurb refers to the double honeymoon in 1958, when Peggy Sue and Jerry, and Buddy and Maria Elena went to Mexico. "But on the double honeymoon... things changed."

In a 1994 interview, Ms Gerron said of that trip: "Buddy wasn't the way I remember him. He seemed deflated and stressed. Whatever problems he and Maria Elena had later definitely started on the honeymoon."

Ms Gerron and Allison divorced in 1965. She now has a website called peggysueonline.com, on which she describes herself as "The First Lady of Rock'*'Roll", and through which she sells a small amount of Holly-related merchandise.

Mrs Holly says she will sue if the excerpts that she has read are in the book, which was due to ship yesterday. "I don't understand why people do that, especially when she knows that people know the truth," she said.

Ms Gerron replied: "I feel I have every right to write my book. That's why we live in America." But a few days ago, Mrs Holly's lawyer, Richard Wallace, sent a cease-and-desist letter to Togi Entertainment, an Oklahoma City-based publishing house.

Mrs Holly owns the rights to her husband's name, image and related trademarks, and other intellectual properties, the letter says. No one involved in the book's publication asked for consent to use Holly's name or image – "his likeness will be featured prominently" on the book's cover, and the subtitle reads Memoirs of Buddy Holly's Peggy Sue.

"Confusion and tarnishment of Buddy Holly's name and Ms Holly's reputation are likely to result from this unauthorised book," the letter states. It demands the ceasing of promotion and sale of the book, removal of the subtitle, cancellation of all book orders, refunds on any deposits for the book, and accounting of revenues from any sales.

Mark Faulk, chief executive officer of Togi Entertainment, said that the threat of a lawsuit would not deter Ms Gerron or his company.

Unlike several other pop standards, "Peggy Sue" never reached number one in the US charts, but rapidly became a classic and has been covered by scores of singers, including John Lennon. Originally it was titled "Cindy Lou", named after Holly's sister and infant niece, but, at the recording, Hollyand the Crickets upped the tempo and were unhappy with the title lyric. Allison, who had been dating Ms Garron but was temporarily estranged from her, suggested "Peggy Sue" instead.

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