Buddy Knox
and the Rhythm Orchids

Buddy Knox and the Rhythm Orchids formed one of the original rockabilly acts in rock-and-roll, had a career that paralleled that of Buddy Holly, and released a number one song in the Fifties.

Buddy was born Buddy Wayne Knox in 1933 in Happy, Texas. In 1948 he wrote a song that he called Party Doll. In 1955 while a student at West Texas State University, Buddy Knox formed a group called the Rhythm Orchids that included himself on guitar and vocals, Jimmy Bowen on bass, and Don Lanier on lead guitar; he later added Dave Alldred on drums. As did many groups that recorded in West Texas in the Fifties, Buddy's group eventually found its way to Norman Petty's studio in Clovis, New Mexico. It was the same studio where Buddy Holly and the Crickets started their recording career.

Norman Petty did not really know at the time how to record rock-and-roll drums, so he used a cardboard box instead of a drum kit. In 1956 the group recorded Knox's old composition of Party Doll as by Buddy Knox and the Rhythm Orchids, and at the same session recorded I'm Stickin' With You as by Jimmy Bowen with the Rhythm Orchids. Knox formed his own label that he called Triple-D, which was named for KDDD Radio in Dumas, Texas. The two songs were issued as both sides of a 45 on the Triple-D label and began to gain in popularity as they received airplay. They had a two-sided hit. The then-new Roulette label in New York City picked up both songs and released each in 1957 with a different B-side; the result was a million seller for each song. I'm Stickin' With You rose to number 14, while Party Doll went all the way to number one. Knox had discovered the style used in the song when teenaged drummer Don Mills had sat in on a date with the Rhythm Orchids, although it was Dave Alldred who played on the recording that had been made in Clovis. Alldred had worked with the Norman Petty Trio earlier in the Fifties, and would later be a member of Dicky Doo and the Don'ts.

In 1957 and 1958 Buddy Knox and the Rhythm Orchids placed a total of eight songs on the charts that they recorded on the Roulette label, including Rock Your Little Baby To Sleep, Hula Love [a top ten song], and Somebody Touched Me. Buddy Knox appeared in the movie Jamboree along with some of the top rock-and-roll stars of the day in 1957. He promoted his songs on Alan Freed's package tours.

The group's sound developed to where it included a number of session guitarists, or a guest artist such as Bobby Darin on piano. Jimmy Bowen rarely played bass in the studio, but members of the Crickets were brought in on many sessions, including Buddy Holly himself on one song, All For You. The last top 100 entry for Buddy Knox and the Rhythm Orchids was I Think I'm Going To Kill Myself in 1959, a song that was banned on many radio stations.

Jimmy Bowen managed to put four songs in the top 100 before becoming a top record executive and producer on the West Coast. He worked for Chancellor and Reprise before moving to MCA Records in Nashville in the 70's; MCA was renamed Universal Records in 1988 with Bowen as its president. Don Lanier recorded on his own, without much success. Buddy Knox moved into mainstream pop and put his own song, Lovey Dovey, in the top forty in the early 60's and later moved on to country, where he had a minor hit with Gypsy Man [a.k.a. Gipsy Man] in 1968. He moved to Canada and opened a nightclub in Vancouver called the Purple Steer in the early 70's, and later toured.

Buddy Knox contracted cancer and passed away on February 14, 1999.

During Buddy Holly's lifetime, Buddy Knox and the Rhythm Orchids equalled his success in the pop music field.

Most Recent Update: December 23, 2004

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