Bone to Pick

A voice lost in the shadow of Buddy Holly demands his due. Question is, what took him so long?

That may be fine as far as some Holly fans are concerned. It's only in recent years that Holly has been treated with respect in America; MCA was notorious in the '60s and '70s for adding vocal and orchestral "sweetening" to the tunes Holly had recorded in his short career, and that particular sacrilege soured many on the idea of tampering with the original takes. Pickering recalls getting one of his Holly/Picks discs back from a disgruntled listener who had taken a knife and slashed an X on the record sleeve. Still, of the thousands of letters he's received from people who have heard the new versions, Pickering says, very few have been negative. And even McKaie, who as an MCA executive is particularly sensitive to charges of butchering "what's already been butchered in the past," admits that he "wouldn't mind hearing" the new Picks-augmented tunes.

On the latest Holly collection from MCA, Greatest Hits (compiled by McKaie), the Picks are listed -- individual members and all -- on the CD sleeve, which offers Pickering some consolation, though not much. He claims to have sunk the bulk of his savings into his Picks project, and has yet to break even. So while he continues to stress that financial gain was never his intention, making a little money, he admits, wouldn't hurt.

"Right now, I'm still in a creative mode, and I don't want [MCA] to get their tails in the air," says. "But being bought out by MCA would be nice."

More than anything else, perhaps, Pickering's dream embodies a need for assurance -- some tangible proof that his singing career has amounted to more than a name in a CD's liner notes. He plans to write a book about his group and its ties to Holly, the working title being simply, Buddy Holly and the Picks. Where to go from there, he's not sure.

But before he can do anything, it seems, Pickering must dig himself out from under a mountain of memories.

Picks Records Inc. can be contacted at P.O. Box 722306, Houston, TX 77272-2306, or phone (281) 498-5249.

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