Music that helped pioneer the rock era is at the heart of this biopic of the 1950s American songster whose life was cut short at age 22 in a plane crash. The most remarkable aspect of this film is Gary Busey's dead-on portrayal of Holly. Busey sings Holly's songs himself, and he makes the character his own without trying too hard to match Holly's iconic physical appearance. Busey won the National Society of Film Critics award as best actor of 1978, and he was nominated for an Oscar, but Academy honors went solely to Joe Renzetti for the pulsating score. The movie avoids wallowing in clichés and successfully recaptures the frenzied energy and serendipity of the early years of the rock era. First-time screenwriter Robert Gittler died the same year that the film was released.