LifeNotes: The Crickets Member Joe B. Mauldin Dies

Buddy Holly and The Crickets in 1957 (top to bottom: Allison, Holly and Mauldin)

Buddy Holly and The Crickets in 1957 (top to bottom: Allison, Holly and Mauldin)

Nashville lost one of its Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame members over the weekend when Joe B. Mauldin of The Crickets passed away on Saturday morning, Feb. 7.

Mauldin was 74 years old and had been battling cancer. In addition to being a 2012 inductee into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, he and his fellow Crickets were also installed in the Music City Walk of Fame in 2007 and in the Musicians Hall of Fame in 2008.

Joe B. Mauldin was the bass player in The Crickets. The group was the accompaniment for the legendary Buddy Holly in the 1950s, then went on to have a five-decade career on its own.

Born Joseph Benson Mauldin Jr. on July 8, 1940, he grew up in West Texas alongside Holly and the other members of the group. He joined The Crickets in 1957. Holly, Mauldin, drummer J.I. Allison and rhythm guitarist Nikki Sullivan scored their first hit as The Cricket with “That’’ll Be the Day” later that year. For the next two years, the group released a steady stream of hits. The records were sometimes billed as “Buddy Holly” and sometimes as “The Crickets.” Among the most successful were “Peggy Sue” (1957), “Oh Boy” (1957), “Maybe Baby” (1958), “Rave On” (1958) and “Think It Over” (1958).

Even songs that were not initially hits became immortal in the pop-music pantheon – “Everyday” (1957), “It’s So Easy” (1958), “Love’s Made a Fool of You” (1958), “Not Fade Away” (1957) and “Well All Right” (1958), to name a few. Mauldin co-wrote the group’s “Last Night,” “Well All Right” and “I’m Gonna Love You Too.” Holly died on Feb. 3, 1959 in a plane crash that also claimed the lives of The Big Bopper (J.P. Richardson) and Richie Valens. Singer, songwriter and guitarist Sonny Curtis, who had been a member of the band before its hit-making days, rejoined the group.

Following Holly’s death, The Crickets toured as the opening act for The Everly Brothers and also backed the duo in concert. The band began issuing LPs on its own in 1960.

Mauldin served in the U.S. Army in 1964-66, then became an engineer at the famed Gold Star Studios in Los Angeles. Allison and Curtis kept The Crickets name alive, and Mauldin periodically performed with them. There were numerous personnel changes over the years — Earl Sinks, Jerry Naylor, Glen D. Hardin, David Box and Gordon Payne were members at various times — but by 1976, Allison and Mauldin were the group constants.

The group appeared at the Buddy Holly Week festival in England in 1977 and toured as the opening act for country superstar Waylon Jennings in the 1970s. Mauldin, Allison and Curtis all relocated to Nashville during the 1980s.

Paul McCartney produced the group in 1988 (The Beatles had named themselves in honor of The Crickets). Nanci Griffith took the group on the road with her in the 1990s and appeared with The Crickets on her 1997 album Blue Roses From the Moon.

Griffith and Jennings both appeared on the 2004 CD The Crickets and Their Buddies, as did Eric Clapton, Phil Everly, Bobby Vee, Rodney Crowell, Graham Nash, John Prine and Johnny Rivers.

Mauldin also performed on the Crickets albums Double Exposure (2003), Still in Style (1992), T-Shirt (1988), Back in Style (1975), Bobby Vee Meets The Crickets (1962), Something Old Something New (1963) and In Style with The Crickets (1960).

In addition, he played bass on records by Dale Hawkins, Jimmy Bowen and Mike Berry. Mauldin continued to tour with The Crickets until 2013, when the band retired.

Joe B. Mauldin is survived by his wife Jane and daughters Melody Stephenson and Jennifer Mauldin.

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Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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