Local performer says farewell to long-running tribute
June 13th, 2012
Omaha, NE – One local musician who has made a name for himself by playing the great Buddy Holly on stage is finally hanging things up.
Billy McGuigan’s fans might tell you he has a unique gift. Through a combination of musical prowess and acting talent, McGuigan has strived to perfectly mimic the works of some of the musicians he once grew up admiring. And his fascination for one spectacled musical icon has translated into a full-fledged career.
“I always feel like that is such a hallowed ground,” McGuigan said. “I’ve seen it done wrong so many times, I just sort of made it my mission to do it right.”
Through the musical tribute show Rave On! The Buddy Holly Experience, McGuigan has worked to become a reflection of the legendary rocker Buddy Holly. Using his formal dress and his trademark, thick-framed glasses, McGuigan said it’s become his mission to capture Holly’s essence. After ten years of portraying Holly around the country, he said, it’s almost become second nature.
“I took whatever I brought to it,” he said. “Now, luckily, ten years on, I don’t really think about it.”
McGuigan said the act has become sort of automatic. “Which is part of the reason I thought it was maybe time to get out of it,” he said. “The challenge wasn’t there to access that anymore. I knew what to do to get a reaction from the audience.”
“So, yeah, that’s sort of what I do. I just put the glasses on and go.”
McGuigan has performed as Holly in over 400 performances across the country. But he’s also paid homage to other rockers of the 50s and 60s. They’ve included Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, and Ritchie Valens.
McGuigan said despite his love of the high-energy performances on stage, he feels it’s time to move on.
“It’s hard to look at it and go, ‘Hey, it’s almost over!’ I just hope they realize it was an amazing ten years,” McGuigan said. “To see what dedication I put into it… I could have easily let the Buddy Holly story close and never done anything else. But, it’s sort of been my identity for ten years.”
McGuigan said passers by will often call him “the Buddy Holly guy” or just call him “Buddy.”
“I’ve never been super comfortable with that,” he laughed. “That part of it, I’m ready to move on.”
But the performance aspect, he said, he’ll miss. “Having a show full of kids and people in their 80s, and being able to touch them with his music…I’ll definitely miss that part of it.”
Rave On! The Buddy Holly Experience will continue to run intermittently until its final Omaha show on June 24th at the Omaha Community Playhouse.