Jerry “J.I.” Allison

Born: August 31, 1939 in Hillsboro, Texas 

Jerry Allison (known as “J.I.” to his friends) cemented his status as a rock’n’roll drumming icon through his work with Buddy Holly in the late 1950s. Along with Holly, Allison formed the Crickets and co-wrote many of the group’s most famous songs, including “That’ll Be the Day” and “Peggy Sue.

As one of the first rock’n’roll bands to write its own material and tour internationally, the Crickets made a big impact on a new generation of musicians. Countless legends—from the Rolling Stones and Blind Faith to the Grateful Dead—have covered Crickets songs, and Paul McCartney famously stated that the Beatles took their name in admiration of Allison and his mates. The Crickets also pioneered innovative recording techniques that became standard in rock music, and many of Allison’s drum parts deserve a place on any drummer’s “must learn” list. In 2012 the Crickets were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

After Holly’s tragic death in 1959, Allison’s career continued to flourish. In addition to leading the Crickets, he’s done stints as a sideman with major artists ranging from the Everly Brothers and Roger Miller to country legend Waylon Jennings. Now six decades long, that career has taken the 73-year-old Allison from humble beginnings in Lubbock, Texas, to Los Angeles, New York, and Nashville, where he currently makes his home.