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Goodbye to the Name We Knew From a Buddy Holly Song

Peggy Sue Gerron Rackham has died at age 78
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 3, 2018 11:31 AM CDT
In this Jan. 11, 2008, file photo, Peggy Sue Gerron unveils her book "Whatever Happened to Peggy Sue?" during a press conference in Tyler, Texas.   (Jaime R. Carrero/Tyler Morning Telegraph, via AP, File)

(Newser) – The Texas woman who inspired the 1958 Buddy Holly song "Peggy Sue" has died at a Lubbock hospital. Peggy Sue Gerron Rackham died Monday at University Medical Center, per a UMC spokesman. She was 78, the AP reports. The family gave the hospital permission to confirm the death but asked that no additional information be released, the rep notes. In 2008, Peggy Sue Gerron released her autobiography Whatever Happened to Peggy Sue? to mark the 50th anniversary of the song. While promoting her book, Gerron said material for it came from about 150 diary entries she made during the time she knew Holly. Gerron attended high school in Lubbock, where she met Holly and his friends. "I wanted to give him [Holly] his voice. It's my book, my memoirs," she said, per a 2008 AP story. "We were very, very good friends. He was probably one of the best friends I ever had."

Gerron married drummer Jerry Allison, from Holly's rock 'n' roll band The Crickets. The couple later divorced. On Monday, her son-in-law, Tom Stathos, told KCBD that the song "Peggy Sue" initially had a different name: "It was originally going to be Cindy Lou (Holly's niece) ... [but] he (Allison) wanted to impress Peggy Sue, so he got Buddy to change the name." Holly, who died in a Feb. 3, 1959, plane crash in Iowa that also killed Ritchie Valens and JP "The Big Bopper" Richardson, also penned the song sequel "Peggy Sue Got Married." A 1986 movie called Peggy Sue Got Married featured actress Kathleen Turner as a character also named Peggy Sue who faints during her 25th high school reunion, then believes she's gone back in time and reconsiders how her life turned out.
(Read more obituary stories.)

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