Not Fade Away (song)

"Not Fade Away" is a song credited to Buddy Holly (originally under his first and middle names, Charles Hardin) and Norman Petty (although Petty's co-writing credit is likely to have been a formality[3]) and first recorded by Holly and his band, the Crickets.[2]

"Not Fade Away"
Single by the Crickets
from the album The "Chirping" Crickets
A-side"Oh, Boy!"
ReleasedOctober 27, 1957 (1957-10-27)
RecordedClovis, New Mexico, May 27, 1957[1]
Producer(s)Norman Petty[1][2]
The Crickets singles chronology
"That'll Be the Day"
"Not Fade Away"
"Maybe Baby"

Original song

Holly and the Crickets recorded the song in Clovis, New Mexico, on May 27, 1957, the same day the song "Everyday" was recorded.[1] The rhythmic pattern of "Not Fade Away" is a variant of the legendary Bo Diddley beat, with the second stress occurring on the second rather than third beat of the first measure, which was an update of the "hambone" rhythm, or patted juba from West Africa. Jerry Allison, the drummer for the Crickets, pounded out the beat on a cardboard box.[3] Allison, Holly's best friend, wrote some of the lyrics, though his name never appeared in the songwriting credits. Joe Mauldin played the double bass on this recording. It is likely that the backing vocalists were Holly, Allison, and Niki Sullivan, but this is not known for certain.[1]

"Not Fade Away" was originally released as the B-side of the hit single "Oh, Boy!" and was included on the album The "Chirping" Crickets (1957). The Crickets' recording never charted as a single. In 2004, this song was ranked number 107 on Rolling Stone's list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time".

Along with the familiar take 2 of "Not Fade Away", there exists a take 1, the first verse of which is missing; it has been released with the first part of take 1 spliced into it.

Contrary to the depiction in the film The Buddy Holly Story (1978), "Not Fade Away" was not the last song Holly performed in his final concert, in Clear Lake, Iowa, on February 2, 1959, just before his death in a plane crash. At a symposium held in Clear Lake in observance of the 50th anniversary of his death, in a panel discussion with Tommy Allsup, Carl Bunch, and Bob Hale (the master of ceremonies at Holly's final show), all agreed that the final song of the night was Chuck Berry's "Brown Eyed Handsome Man", performed by all of the acts on the bill.


Buddy Holly and the Crickets

The Rolling Stones version

"Not Fade Away"
American single picture sleeve
Single by the Rolling Stones
  • February 21, 1964 (1964-02-21) (UK)
  • March 1964 (US)
Format7-inch single
Recorded10 January 1964
StudioOlympic, London
Producer(s)Andrew Loog Oldham
Rolling Stones UK singles chronology
"I Wanna Be Your Man"
"Not Fade Away"
"It's All Over Now"
Rolling Stones US singles chronology
"Not Fade Away"
"Tell Me"

In 1964, the Rolling Stones' cover of "Not Fade Away", with a strong Bo Diddley beat, was a major hit in Britain. It was the A-side of the band's first US single.[4]

The Rolling Stones' version of "Not Fade Away" was one of their first hits. Recorded in January 1964 and released by Decca Records on February 21, 1964, with "Little by Little" as the B-side, it was their first Top 10 hit in the United Kingdom, reaching number three.[5] In March 1964, it was also the band's first single released in the United States, on the London Records label with "I Wanna Be Your Man" as the B-side (It had been briefly preceded by "I Wanna Be Your Man" with "Stoned" as the B-side, but this was quickly withdrawn). The single reached number 48 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.[6] It also reached number 44 on the Cash Box pop singles chart in the U.S. and number 33 in Australia based on the Kent Music Report. "Not Fade Away" was not on the UK version of their debut album, The Rolling Stones, but was the opening track of the US version, released a month later as England's Newest Hitmakers. It was a mainstay of the band's concerts in their early years, usually opening the shows. It was revived as the opening song in the band's Voodoo Lounge Tour, in 1994 and 1995.

Chart (1964) Peak
Ireland (IRMA)[7] 5
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[8] 3
US Billboard Hot 100[9] 48
US Cash Box Top 100[10] 44

Other cover versions

  • Rush recorded a version of "Not Fade Away" as their debut single in 1973, which peaked at number 88 in Canada. The single was released on the band's own Moon Records label, and is considered a rare collector's item today, as it has never been reissued on any format.
  • Tanya Tucker included a funky, rock-and-roll version of "Not Fade Away" on her album, TNT (1978). Tucker's cover of this song peaked at number 70 on the U.S. Billboard pop singles chart in 1979.[11]
  • The Grateful Dead first performed "Not Fade Away" on June 19, 1968 at the Carousel Ballroom, San Francisco, California, and subsequently performed it more than 600 more times before the group disbanded in 1995, following the death of lead guitarist Jerry Garcia. The surviving members reunited and played the song for the time as the Grateful Dead as the last song of the second set (before the encores) on the last night of Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of the Grateful Dead where the song signified that the fans' love of the band and the band's love of the fans "will not fade away." [12] [13]. Versions of the song are included on the Skull and Roses AKA Grateful Dead (album) (1971) and Rare Cuts and Oddities 1966 albums. The song continued (and apparently continues) to be played by later iterations of the band, including The Other Ones, The Dead (band), and most currently - Dead & Company.[14]


  1. Buddy Holly: Greatest Hits. Liner notes. 1995. MCA Records.
  2. Norman Petty interviewed on the Pop Chronicles (1969)
  3. The Real Buddy Holly Story (DVD). White Star Studios. 1987.
  4. "Song artist 5 - The Rolling Stones". 2007-10-08. Retrieved 2016-08-29.
  5. "Gloucestershire - People - Brian Jones (1942-1969)". BBC. Retrieved 2016-08-29.
  6. Carr, Roy (1976). The Rolling Stones, an Illustrated Record. London: New English Library.
  7. "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Not Fade Away". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  8. "Rolling Stones: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  9. "The Rolling Stones Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  10. Cash Box Top 100 Singles, July 4, 1964
  12. "'Grateful Dead: final concerts unite fans and band as legends fade away". Retrieved September 23, 2019.
  13. "'Not Fade Away' by Grateful Dead". Retrieved September 23, 2019.
  14. "Dead & Company > Tour Statistics". Retrieved September 23, 2019.
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