Had it not been for Larry Welborn's inability to play a gig in nearby New Mexico, it's entirely possible that Joe B. Mauldin -- also known as Joe Benson Mauldin -- might well never have found fame or a career beyond his native Lubbock, Texas. But Welborn, who had previously played upright bass on recordings and in performance with Buddy Holly -- including a new recording of That'll Be The Day in early 1957, that was soon to be released -- couldn't make the gig, and the diminutive-statured Mauldin could, and was more available overall. And, thus, it was Mauldin who signed on as a member of the Crickets, as the group was dubbed (as part of a ruse to avoid a problem with an old contract of Holly's), and ended up getting a share of the revenue from the hit single that he never played on. At the time, he had so little confidence in the signing, however, that he kept his day job as a butcher's assistant at the local market in Lubbock. By the end of the summer of 1957, he was able to turn in his butcher's smock with his head held high, and he's been part of music ever since,

Mauldin started out as a solid if somewhat inexperienced bassist who got a lot better in tandem with drummer Jerry Allison and sometime rhythm guitarist Niki Sullivan, as Buddy Holly and the Crickets burned up the charts over the next year. By mid-1958, he was among the most well-known bassists in the country, and the sound he generated on those records was being emulated by players from Lubbock to London (Holly and the Crickets were extraordinarily popular in England). His sound can be traced as a source of inspiration for such obvious figures as Rob Stoner of Robert Gordon's band, and Lee Rocker of the Stray Cats, but he was also an influence, early on, on bands such as the Quarrymen -- soon to morph into the Beatles -- and the Searchers et al. Unlike Allison, he wasn't a natural songwriter, although he did get co-writing credit on Well . . . All Right, and had a share of the group's publishing. Mauldin initially joined with Allison on the side of producer/manager Norman Petty, in the split that took place between Holly and the others in late 1958, though he apparently did have second thoughts soon after, and, with Allison, had hoped to mend fences with Holly. He was one of the pallbearers at Holly's funeral in February of 1959, and remained a member of the Crickets through 1965.

Mauldin eventually moved into sound engineering, and was closely associated with Gold Star Studios in Los Angeles beginning in the 1960's. He also played behind country musicians, usually credited as Joe Benson Mauldin, and has rejoined Allison in various performing and recording incarnations of the Crickets in the decades since. Although not regarded as being as proficient a musician as Allison, his work with the Crickets on the classic Buddy Holly sides makes him one of the most nfluential bassists of the 1950s. In Steve Rash's movie #The Buddy Holly Story, which starred Gary Busey in the title role, Mauldin was represented on screen as a fictionalized "Joe Bob," played by actor Charles Martin Smith. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

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