BUDDY HOLLY & NIKI SULLIVAN
Here’s a fun question to ruin a friendship with: what was the first band to specifically feature both a rhythm guitarist and a lead guitarist?
It’s near impossible to answer because the definitions aren’t completely watertight – do big bands count? Does a rhythm guitarist have to play chords while the lead plays riffs and solos? The Crickets probably weren’t the first band to feature the classic ‘bass, drums, rhythm and lead’ setup (which pretty much became standard), either – and the rhythm-playing Sullivan left the band after barely a year to study – but to the teenagers just starting to discover this newfangled “rock’n’roll” stuff, this was what a band looked like. That was until Holly’s death in 1958, at least.
Fun fact: while Holly was alive, there was no “Buddy Holly And The Crickets”. The band recorded all of the songs, and those with a single vocal were marketed as “Buddy Holly” singles while those with backing vocals were billed as “The Crickets” singles. This was their way of getting DJs to play twice as many of his records – a quietly brilliant plan concocted by their producer and manager, Norman Petty.