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Home The Decades 1950s Buddy Holly - The Day The Music Died

Buddy Holly - The Day The Music Died


Pictured above:  Buddy Holly

VAV!/February 3, 2012

The myth of legendary rocker Buddy Holly (September 7, 1936 – February 3, 1959) has grown by degrees since his death in a fiery plane crash on an Iowa cornfield shortly after 1 a.m. on Feb. 3, 1959. Buddy Holly was only 22 years old. On board the plane were two other rock singers, similarly lost to the ages of music, Ritchie Valens 17, and J. P. Richardson, known as the "Big Bopper."

Buddy Holly Accident Report

Pictured above:  NARA Accident Report

Since Holly's death, very few stars have shone so brilliantly or briefly as Buddy Holly.  His influence on the young age of rock and roll has rarely been surpassed.  

Buddy Holly's career began in Lubbock, Texas, and for 18 glorious months, he was a national sensation writing an impressive number of hit songs, some of which have become standards. Perhaps most of all he's remembered for his gold disc, "Peggy Sue,"  trademark  black-rimmed glasses and slim Jim ties.

After high school, Holly started a band playing country and western songs in a Lubbock radio station with gigs along the way. He opened for acts that soared through Lubbock. It may well have been Holly's opening for Elvis Presley in 1955 that became the turning point in his career. From that moment on, it's reported Holly began a conversion.

By 1956, Holly and his band began recording in Nashville under the name Buddy Holly and the Three Tunes. Later the group revised the lineup and were re-named The Crickets. By 1957, Holly wrote and recorded his unforgettable hit, "That'll Be the Day," with The Crickets in 1957.  Buddy Holly had actually recorded an earlier version of this song with a more country-and-western feel than the hit version that Brunswick Records released later. In an era when performers were not necessarily considered songwriters, Buddy Holly and the Crickets wrote most of their own material, including "That'll Be the Day. Holly's fellow songwriters were drummer Jerry Allison and bassist Joe B. Mauldin who also provided the rhythm section for the group.

Incredibly, between August 1957 and August 1958, Holly and the Crickets charted seven different Top 40 singles.By October 1958, Holly paid his respects to The Crickets and split.  He began a tour through the Midwest in 1959 with The Winter Dance Party.

Since Holly's death, Don McLean's iconic song "American Pie" has memorialized Holly's death as the "day the music died."

A Timeline of Buddy Holly's life:

1936 - On September 7, Charles Hardin Holley was born to Ella and Lawrence Odell "L.O." Holley on Labor Day at the Holley's Sixth Street home in Lubbock.  His family lovingly nicknamed him "Buddy."

1941 - At five years of age, Buddy entered a talent contest along with his older brothers Larry and Travis.  Buddy's was awarded first place after singing "Down the River Of Memories." 

1949 - Buddy's first recording was on a friend's wire recorder, a Hank Snow Song,  "My Two-Timin' Woman."

1952 - Buddy and Hutchinson High School  friend,  Bob Montgomery, made a home recording of "Take These Shackles From My Heart and I'll Just Pretend. " The following year they make a home recording of Bill Monroe's Footprints In The Snow.

1953 -  Buddy teamed up with Jack Neal in the duo, Buddy and Jack and they were featured on local radio station, KDAV during The Sunday Party hosted by a disc jockey and talent scout.

1954 - Following Jack Neal's marriage,  Buddy teamed up with Bob Montgomery to form Buddy and Bob duo.  Billing themselves as Western and Bop talent and performed before  high schools, parties, church events, and for KDAV.

1954/55 - Buddy, joined at various times by Bob Montgomery, Sonny Curtis, Larry Welborn, Don Guess and/or J. I. Allison, traveled to Nesman Recording Studio in Wichita Falls to record  songs including: Flower Of My Heart, Door To My Heart, Soft Place In My Heart, Gotta Get You Near Me Blues, I Gambled My Heart, Down The Line, You And I Are Through, Baby Let's Play House, and Queen Of The Ballroom.

1955 - On February 19 Buddy, Bob Montgomery, and Larry Welborn performed Flower Of My Heart, a song written by Bob, for a contest at Lubbock High School. The song  beat out the competition and was chosen as the 1954 Senior Class Song.

1955 - Back home in Lubbock, TX on February 13 Buddy and Bob opened for The King, Elvis Presley at the Fair Park Coliseum.  It was during that time that Holly found Rock and Roll.  He was later quoted as saying of his short career,  "We owe it all to Elvis."

1955 - On October 14, while  at the Fair Park Coliseum, Buddy, Bob Montgomery, and Larry Welborn performed in a show featuring Bill Haley and The Comets and Jimmy Rodgers Snow.  In the crowd was Nashville agent, Eddie Crandall .

1955 - On October 15,  Buddy, Bob Montgomery, and Larry Welborn opened for Elvis at the Fair Park Coliseum.

1955 - On October 28 Buddy, Bob Montgomery, and Larry Welborn opened for headliner Marty Robbins at the Fair Park Coliseum. Eddie Crandall , Nashville agent, is again in the crowd watching their performanc.

1955 - On December 2-3,  Eddie Crandall wrote to "Pappy" Dave Stone, KDAV Station Manager, asking for exclusive rights to help Buddy obtain a recording contract.

1955 - On December 7, at Nesman Recording Studio in Wichita Falls, Buddy, Don Guess and J.I. Allison record Love Me, Don't Come Back Knockin', Moonlight Baby, and I Guess I Was Just A Fool  all of which are submitted on acetate to Decca.

1956 - On January 23-25, Holly signed a recording contract with Decca and a three-year songwriter's contract with Cedarwood Publishing Company. Throughout 1956, while learning about the recording industry, Holly performed at  touring shows, dances, and clubs around Lubbock and West Texas.  With the coming of 1957, Holly had developed his own distinctive style and vision for his career.

1956 - On January 26,  Buddy, Sonny Curtis, and Don Guess made their first recording sessions for Decca at  Bradley's Barn in Nashville under the name of Buddy and The Two Tones. They recorded Love Me, Don't Come Back Knocking, Midnight Shift, and Blue Days Black Nights.

1956 - On February 8,  Buddy received Decca's contract from Jim Denny of Cedarwood Publishing. It was during this time, that Buddy adopted Holly as his last name.

1956 - On April 16, Decca released the Buddy Holly single Blue Days Black Nights and Love Me.

1956 - On April 21, Billboard reviewed Love Me saying of the group  "If the public will take more than one Presley or Perkins, this one stands a chance."

1956 - On May 6-10, Buddy joined Faron Young's Grand Ole Opry Show while on its Oklahoma tour. 

1957 - On July 2, The Buddy Holly single, Blue Days Black Nights/Love Me was released in England on the Brunswick label.

1957 - On July 22, Buddy Holly, Sonny Curtis, Don Guess, and J.I. Allison traveled to Nashville for the second Decca recording session at Bradley's Barn. The song list from the session includes I'm Changing All Those Changes, Girl On My Mind, Rock Around With Ollie Vee, Ting-A-Ling, and That'll Be The Day.

1957 - On November 1,5 Buddy was in Nashville for the third and final recording session with Decca at Bradley's Barn. Rock Around With Ollie Vee, Modern Don Juan, and You Are My One Desire are recorded.

1957 - On December 24, Decca released Buddy's single, Modern Don Juan and You Are My One Desire.

1957 - On January 9 (through January 23), Buddy, Don Guess, and Sonny Curtis joined the Hank Thompson tour. 

1957 - On January 22, Decca sentBuddy a letter informing him that his contract expired on January 26, 1957.

1957 - February 24-25, Buddy travels to the Norman Petty Studio in Clovis, New Mexico and recorded I'm Looking For Someone To Love and the hit version of That'll Be The Day. 

1957 February/March, Buddy was prohibited from recording songs under his contract with Decca.  To release the new version of "That'll Be The Day,  a search begins  to find a name for the band. First selecting the name of "The Beetles" they decided upon the name  "The Crickets".  The Crickets group:  Buddy Holly, vocals and lead guitar; J.I. Allison, drums; Joe B. Mauldin, bass; and Niki Sullivan, rhythm guitar. (Niki later departed from the band in December at the end of the Biggest Show of Stars for 1957.)

1957 - March 12, Maybe Baby was recorded in Clovis.

1957 - March 19, The Crickets signed a contract with Bob Thiele in which Coral, a subsidiary of Decca, agreed to purchase masters for That'll Be The Day and I'm Looking For Someone To Love. This became  the working contract for The Crickets, and their songs will be released under the Brunswick label.

1957 - April 8, Mailman Bring Me No More Blues and Words Of Love were recorded in Clovis, while Buddy made his first attempt at overdubbing.

1957 - May 16, Buddy signed an agreement with Bob Thiele for Coral to sell the masters of Words Of Love and Mailman Bring Me No More Blues. There are two separate recording contracts involving Buddy Holly. The first contract was for records issued under The Crickets' name. These records appeared on the Brunswick label. The second contract was for records issued under the Buddy Holly name. These records appeared on the Coral label.

1957 - May 20, Mercury Records released The Diamonds recording of Words Of Love written by Buddy Holly.

1957 - May 27, Brunswick released The Crickets' single, That'll Be The Day/I'm Looking For Someone To Love.

1957 - May 29, Not Fade Away and Everyday are recorded in Clovis with the use of effects to include a cardboard box, knee slaps, and a celeste.

1957 - June 20, Voral released the Buddy Holly single, Words Of Love/Mailman Bring Me No More Blues.

1957 - July 1, Peggy Sue, Oh Boy, Listen To Me, and I'm Gonna Love You Too were recorded in Clovis.

1957 - July 11, Buddy Holly and The Crickets were billed on the front page of the Carlsbad Current Argus newspaper under the headline: "Buddy Holly and his popular rock 'n roll band from Lubbock". They perform at the Elks Ballroom on July 13th.

1957 - July 12, It's Too Late and Send Me Some Lovin' were recorded in Clovis.

1957 - July 16, Through Bob Thiele, Buddy learned That'll Be The Day sold 50,000 records, and an additional 28,000 have been pressed. 

1957 - July 23, Bob Thiele sent a registered letter informing The Crickets that Coral will renew their recording contract.

1957 - July 24, Buddy signed contracts for The Crickets to perform during the month of August at the Howard Theater in Washington, D.C.; the Royal Theater in Baltimore, Maryland; and the Apollo Theater in New York City.

1957 - July 30, Buddy signed a contract for a 67-day tour package beginning in September.

1957 - August 2 (through August 8), Buddy Holly and The Crickets began  their first major tour at the Howard Theater in Washington, D.C. where That'll Be The Day is number two on the charts.

1957 - August 9 (through August 16), Buddy Holly and The Crickets performed at the Royal Theater in Baltimore, Maryland.

1957 - August 12, The Decca version of That'll Be The Day with Rock Around With Ollie Vee was released, with poor sales. The song on the Brunswick label, was listed as No. 26 in Cash Box's Top 60 chart and is listed as an R&B Sure Shot.

1957 - August 16 (through August 22), Buddy Holly and The Crickets performed at the Apollo Theater in New York City.

1957 - August 26, Buddy Holly and The Crickets performed That'll Be The Day on Dick Clark's American Bandstand in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

1957 - August 27, Buddy Holly and The Crickets appeared on the Ted Steele Show in New York City.

1957 - August 30 (through September 8), The Alan Freed Holiday Show at the Paramount Theater in New York featured Buddy Holly and The Crickets.

1957 - September 9 (through November 24), Buddy Holly and The Crickets joined the Biggest Show of Stars for 1957 in Norfolk, Virginia.

1957 - September 10, Coral in England released The Crickets single That'll Be The Day/I'm Looking For Someone To Love.

1957 - September 20, Coral released the Buddy Holly single Peggy Sue/Everyday.

1957 - September 21, Cash Box featured a cover photograph of Buddy Holly and The Crickets pointing to a circled date of October 1, 1957 when That'll Be The Day was  expected to pass the one million mark in sales on this date.

1957 - September 23 (through September 29),  Buddy, J.I., Joe B. and Niki visit their families in Lubbock. Later, they then meet Norman Petty at Tinker Air Force Base near Oklahoma City where they recorded four songs: An Empty Cup, Rock Me My Baby, You've Got Love, and Maybe Baby.

1957 - October 11, Buddy Holly and The Crickets were featured in the British magazine the New Musical Express, which states: "If someone asks you where the hit records come from these days, you won't be far wrong if you reply Deep In The Heart Of Texas."

1957 - October 27, Brunswick released The Crickets' single, Oh Boy/Not Fade Away.

1957 - November 15-16, Coral in England released Peggy Sue/Everyday.

1957 - November 24, The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal featured an article under the headline "Lubbock Combo on Network Show Next Sunday". This article referred to a scheduled appearance by Buddy Holly and The Crickets on The Ed Sullivan Show.

1957 - November 27, Brunswick released the album, The Chirping Crickets with songs, That'll Be The Day, Oh Boy, Not Fade Away, You've Got Love, Maybe Baby, It's Too Late, Tell Me How, I'm Looking For Someone To Love, An Empty Cup, Send Me Some Lovin', Last Night, and Rock Me My Baby.

1957 - November 29, Sid Varnes, Cash Box's editor-in-chief, sent  a telegram to The Crickets telling them that the Juke Box Operators of America have voted them "Most Promising Vocal Group of 1957".

1957 - December 1, Buddy Holly and The Crickets performed That'll Be The Day and Peggy Sue on The Ed Sullivan Show.

1957 - December 4-5, Buddy Holly and The Crickets returned to Lubbock. Niki Sullivan leaves the group, due to the harsh tour schedule. Norman Petty signed contracts for Buddy Holly and The Crickets to participate in three tours, including the Paramount Theater in New York, the America's Greatest Teenage Recording Stars, and a brief Florida tour.

1957 - December 17 and 19, Little Baby, Look At Me, and (You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care were recorded in Clovis.

1957 - December 22, Coral in England released Oh Boy/Not Fade Away.

1957 - December 23 (through January 5), Buddy Holly and The Crickets were billed separately during the 12-day Alan Freed's Christmas Jubilee Show (also billed as the Holiday of Stars) at the Paramount Theater in New York City. 

1958 - On January 2, Norman Petty signed a contract for Buddy Holly and The Crickets to perform on tour and in radio promotions in Australia, beginning January 30.

1958 - On January 3, The New Musical Express featured an article stating that Buddy was fast gaining recognition as a solo artist while continuing to work with The Crickets, and that one of the group's ambitions was to set up a music publishing house.

1958 - On January 6, Decca released the Buddy Holly single Love Me/You Are My One Desire.

1958 - On January 8 (through January 24), Buddy Holly and The Crickets joined America's Greatest Teenage Recording Stars tour in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

1958 - On January 25, Bob Thiele of Coral presented Buddy Holly and Norman Petty with the gold record for Peggy Sue. Rave On and That's My Desire were recorded at Bell Sound Studios in New York.

1958 - On January 26, Buddy Holly and The Crickets performed Oh Boy on The Ed Sullivan Show in New York City.

1958 - On January 27, Buddy Holly and The Crickets and Norman Petty fllew from New York to Honolulu. The same evening, they perform two shows with Jerry Lee Lewis, Paul Anka, and Jodie Sands.

1958 - On January 28-29, Buddy Holly and The Crickets traveled from Hawaii to Sydney, Australia for a six-day tour

1958 - On January 31, In Newcastle, Australia, Pat Barton, a local deejay, interviewed  Buddy. During the interview, Buddy denies that The Crickets, or any group, will fill Elvis Presley's shoes while he is in the Army.

1958 - On February 4, a review in the Courier-Mall newspaper of Brisbane, Australia, described The Big Show as "frenzied vocal showmanship over a steadily slugging rhythm...heard by groups of enthusiastic teenagers squealing and screaming like 50 untrained fife bands".

1958 - On February 5, Coral released Buddy's single I'm Gonna Love You Too/Listen To Me.

1958 - On February 9, Buddy Holly and The Crickets returned to Hawaii after the Australian tour and performed at Scofield Barracks.

1958 - On February 12, Well...All Right recorded in Clovis. Brunswick released The Crickets' single Maybe Baby/Tell Me How.

1958 - On February 13, Think It Over and Fool's Paradise were recorded in Clovis.

1958 - On February 15, J.I. recorded Real Wild Child and Oh You Beautiful Doll. The song is released under J.I.'s middle name Ivan.

1958 - On February 20 (through February 25), Buddy Holly and The Crickets joined The Big Gold Records Stars tour (informally known as The Florida Tour).

1958 - On February 28, Coral in England released Listen To Me/I'm Gonna Love You Too, and Maybe Baby/Tell Me How. Buddy Holly and The Crickets and Norman and Vi Petty arrived in London to begin the 25-day tour of the United Kingdom.  On the day of their arrival, Buddy Holly and The Crickets lip-synched That'll Be The Day on Cool For Cats on AR-TV Independent Television followed by their attendance at a press reception and a photography shoot at Whisky-A-Go-Go in Soho, London.

1958 - On March 14, Buddy Holly and The Crickets perform Maybe Baby, which is broadcast live over the BBC's Off The Record TV show, and I'm Gonna Love You Too for a promotional advertisement for the show. 

1958 - On March 25, prior to the second show scheduled in Hammersmith, London, and  the last performance of the English tour,  during an altercation, Joe B. Mauldin damaged the caps of Buddy's two front and Buddy repaired them with chewing gum.

1958 - On March 27 (through May 10), Buddy Holly and the Crickets joined Alan Freed's Big Beat Show in Brooklyn, New York.

1958 - On April 14, Decca released the album, That'll Be The Day, with the songs: You Are My One Desire, Blue Days Black Nights, Modern Don Juan, Rock Around With Ollie Vee, Ting-A-Ling, Girl On My Mind, That'll Be The Day, Love Me, I'm Changing All Those Changes, Don't Come Back Knockin' and Midnight Shift.

1958 - On April 20, Coral released the Buddy Holly single Rave On/Take Your Time.

1958 - On May 3, in what has become the "Boston Riot" during shows for the Big Beat tour at the Boston Arena resulted in the cancellation of scheduled shows in Troy, New York; Providence, Rhode Island; New Haven, Connecticut; and Newark, New Jersey.

1958 - On May 27, Buddy Holly and The Crickets recorded It's So Easy, and Lonesome Tears in Clovis. Brunswick releases the single Think It Over/Fool's Paradise.

1958 - On June 9 (through June 18), Buddy Holly, Joe B. Mauldin, and Norman Petty flew to Los Angeles for a promotional tour, and are photographed at Southern Music Publishing in Hollywood. In San Francisco, Buddy is interviewed on the Ted Randal Show at KPIX television.  Buddy flies to New York City where he meets Maria Elena Santiago at Peer Southern Music and proposes marriage the first day they meet.  The couple were married within two months.

1958 - On June 19, Buddy recorded Early In The Morning and Now We're One at Pythian Temple in New York City.

1958 - On June 23, Decca released the Buddy Holly single, Girl On My Mind/Ting-A-Ling from the Decca album That'll Be The Day.

1958 - On July 4 (through July 13), Buddy Holly and The Crickets,  performed for the Summer Dance Party tour. 

1958 - On July 5, Coral released The Crickets' single, Think It Over/Fool's Paradise.

1958 - On July 8, during a performance at Electric Park in Waterloo, Iowa, a photographer asks Buddy to remove his glasses for a picture. To this request, Buddy replied: "I never have pictures made without my glasses."

1958 - On July 21-22, J.I. Allison and Peggy Sue Gerron apply for a marriage license from the county courthouse in Lubbock and married the next day.

1958 - On August 8, Coral in England released the Buddy Holly single Early In The Morning/Now We're One

1958 - On August 11, Lubbock oublic property record  listed "Charles Buddy Holley" in an agreement with his father, L.O. Holley, for a six-room, four-bath, brick-veneer house to be built on Buddy's property in Bobalet Heights.

1958 - On August 15, Buddy and Maria Elena Santiago were married at the Holley home in Lubbock. Buddy's record, Now We're One, is played at the ceremony. The Hollys departed on a honeymoon for two weeks in Acapulco, Mexico.

1958 - On September 10, a session for Waylon Jennings was produced by Buddy for his newly founded company, Prism Records.

1958 - On September 12, Brunswick releases The Crickets' single It's So Easy/Lonesome Tears, and Ivan's Real Wild Child/Oh You Beautiful Doll.

1958 - On September 30, Phil Everly and Buddy co-produced a recording session for Lou Giordano at the Beltone Studios in New York City. 

1958 - On October 2, Buddy appeard on the Alan Freed Dance Party show on WNEW-TV in New York City where he lip-synched It's So Easy and is interviewed before a live audience by Freed.

1958 - On October 3 (through October 19), Buddy Holly and The Crickets headed for the Biggest Show of Stars for 1958 Fall Edition.

1958 - On October 21, Buddy Holly recorded the "string session" at Pythian Temple in New York City producing True Love Ways, It Doesn't Matter Anymore, Raining In My Heart, and Moondreams. Paul Anka, who wrote It Doesn't Matter Anymore, is present along with J.I. Allison and Joe B. Mauldin.

1958 - On October 28, Buddy Holly and The Crickets appeared on Dick Clark's American Bandstand on WFIL-TV in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Introducing Buddy, Clark calls him, "...a man who creates songs, performs them, and has a great deal to do with the activities of our music world, and he's still a very young man and a successful one at that." Buddy lip-synchs Heartbeat and It's So Easy.

1958 - On November 3, Buddy ended his business partnership with Norman Petty. J.I. Allison and Joe B. Mauldin remained under Petty's management.

1958 - On November 5, Coral released the Buddy Holly single Heartbeat/Well...All Right.

1958 - On November 21, Coral in England released the Buddy Holly single Heartbeat/Well...All Right.

1958 - On December 3 (through December 17), on an Ampex tape recorder, Buddy recorded That's What They Say, What To Do, Peggy Sue Got Married, That Makes It Tough, Crying, Waiting, Hoping and Learning The Game from his Greenwich Village apartment.

1958 - On December 11, in a letter to his parents, Buddy writes: "I've been writing a few songs. Some of them are fairly good. The best one to date is a 'top secret' one titled Peggy Sue Got Married. Please don't mention it to anyone either. I want it to be a complete surprise."

1958 - On December 14, Buddy wrote to Terry Noland in Lubbock that he has written a couple of tunes that he thinks might be good for Noland to record, which he hopes to have arranged by Jesse Stone, Ray Charles' arranger. He also writes: "I'm leaving on tour Jan. 23rd so I hope you'll be here then as I would like to be at your next session. The tour doesn't last but 3 weeks and I'll be back in New York by the middle of February."

1958 - On December 25, Buddy and Maria Elena spend Christmas with Buddy's family in Lubbock.

1958 - On December 27, while at KLLL radio station in Lubbock, Buddy was prompted by a bet to write a song in less than 30 minutes. Buddy composes You're The One, which is recorded on the station's acetate machine. 

1959 - January, it is  believed Buddy recorded three more songs, Slippin' And Slidin', Smokey Joe's Cafe, and Wait 'Till The Sun Shines Nellie, at the Greenwich Village apartment in January 1959. Buddy meanwhile has recruited Tommy Allsup (guitar), Waylon Jennings (bass), and Carl Bunch (drums) for the Winter Dance Party, and they begin rehearsing for the upcoming tour.

1959 - January 5, Coral released the Buddy Holly single It Doesn't Matter Anymore/Raining In My Heart.

1959 - January 20 - 22, Buddy, Tommy Allsup, Waylon Jennings, and Carl Bunch leave New York City and travel by train to Chicago to rendezvous with the other artists on the Winter Dance Party tour. 

1959 - January 23, The Winter Dance Party started the tour with performances in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and continued through February 15 with stops in Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky and Ohio.

1959 - February 1, The Winter Dance Party was stranded en route to Appleton, Wisconsin, after their they were traveling on bus breaks down. With frigid temperatures at minus-30-degrees and no available  heat, the passengers burned newspapers in the aisles for warmth. The Local Sheriff transported the entertainers to safety amd  Carl Bunch was admitted to the hospital suffering from frostbite. The Winter Dance Party continues onward to the Riverside Ballroom in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

1959 - February 2, Buddy Holly, Waylon Jennings, and Tommy Allsup performed and serve as back-up musicians during the performance at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa.

1959 - February 3, shortly after the performance in Clear Lake, Buddy Holly, J. P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson and Ritchie Valens board a small aircraft chartered to take them to their next performance. Soon after take-off, the plane crashes killing all aboard.



Timeline excerpts/City of Lubbock Texas, Buddy Holly Center

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