by Adam Levy

This guitar lesson is a preview of what’s to come in Adam Levy‘s 50 Low-Down Rhythm Licks. Stay tuned for more to come and an announcement of the full course soon. Be sure to subscribe to stay tuned!

I first heard about Buddy Holly in 1978, when the film The Buddy Holly Story was newly released. This was right around the time I started playing guitar. Coincidentally, I picked up John Lennon’s 1975 album Rock ’n’ Roll that same year. Rock ’n’ Roll featured a cover of Holly’s “Peggy Sue.” A year later, the Knack’s chart-topping debut LP contained a cover of Holly’s “Heartbeat.” Two decades after his death, Holly seemed to be everywhere! Intrigued, I bought a 45-rpm single of “That’ll Be the Day” (with “I’m Looking For Someone To Love” on the B side”) and that really was the day. I immediately dug Holly’s propulsive guitar style. I played the record over and over until there was hardly any music left on that slice of vinyl.

Holly’s song “Not Fade Away” is one of my favorites. It’s based on a repeating rhythmic figure akin to Bo Diddley’s classic “Hey! Bo Diddley.” “Not Fade Away” is different, however—a little slower than you might expect, with accents on unexpected beats. In fact, most cover versions of the song have missed the subtleties of Holly’s sly, country rhythm. Listen closely to the percussive background vocals of Holly’s bandmates, the Crickets, for a clue to this song’s true groove.

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Adam LevyA longtime friend of the ‘Fire, Adam Levy has been unlocking the guitar for students of all levels and varied interests for decades. His teaching experience comprises several years with the National Guitar Workshop, the Blue Bear School in San Francisco, and private lessons for New School in New York City. He is also a talented artist and songwriter, having worked with Norah Jones, Amos Lee, and Tracy Chapman. Be sure to check out Adam’s official website, his insightful blog, and his latest album, The Heart Collector.