Video: Buddy’s back again

Buddy Holly is one of rock'n'roll's most enduring icons and the musical that bears his name has been a worldwide hit since its premiere in 1989. An updated version arrives in Norwich this week with Buddy obsessive Glen Joseph wearing the famous glasses. SIMON PARKIN reports.

When Glen Joseph was six when he met one of Buddy Holly's legendary Crickets. Now more than two decades on, he is donning the famous black specs nightly to play the tragic singer/songwriter in Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story.

The show, billed as the world's most successful musical, returns to the Theatre Royal this week with two performers sharing the role of Buddy.

In some performances, he will be played by Roger Rowley, the great-great-grandson of famous music hall star JR Rowley who also works on TV and film special effects when he is not acting and performing.

In others Glen, who in a packed and colourful working life is also a rugby referee, a stilt walker and a professional wrestler, will be playing what is in many respects his dream role.

The Newcastle-born actor, 26, grew up surrounded by the with the music of the 1950s thanks to his dad who was a huge fan of Buddy Holly.

He was taken to see The Crickets at Newcastle City Hall an during the interval saw Jerry Allison standing in the foyer. His father lost his bottle and couldn't ask for his autograph.

Most Read

'So he sent me over and I said politely 'excuse me sir, can I have your autograph?' Jerry walked me back to dad and said, 'these British kids, they're so well-raised!''

Glen previously played Buddy in British theatres and returned to the UK show in February after a stint touring in the German production, and taking a break to star in Dreamboats and Petticoats.

When he learnt he'd won the role in the nationwide tour he and his dad took a trip to Texas to follow the Buddy Holly trail.

Among the stops was a visit to the singer's home town of Lubbock.

It was 52-years ago that Charles Hardin Holley — better known as Buddy, the man who changed the face of popular music — tragically died in a plane crash aged just 22.

Buddy tells the story of the three years in which he became the world's top recording artist.

The show that features more than 20 of Buddy's greatest hits including Peggy Sue, That'll Be The Day, Oh Boy, Rave On, Heartbeat and Raining In My Heart.

It also looks at the last concert he ever gave with The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens, who both died in the plane crash.

The show's writer and producer Alan Jones penned the original show which opened in 1989, after receiving support from Sir Paul McCartney, who owns the rights to Buddy's music.

It has proved to be a massive hit all over the world enjoying over 15 years I the West End, eight-and-a-half years touring the UK and Ireland, and has been seen by over 21 million people worldwide.

The current version of the show has been revamped for the latest tour, going back to the script and staging that won it a string of Tony and Olivier awards.

Alan Jones said: 'We're looking forward to once again playing to all our fans in Norwich Theatre Royal especially as Buddy is the perfect antidote for recession depression.'

n Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story is at Norwich Theatre Royal, June 13-18, �18.50-�6.50, 01603 630000,