"Not Fade Away" is a song credited to Buddy Holly (originally under his first and middle names, Charles Hardin) and Norman Petty (although Petty's co-writing credit is most likely a formality) and first recorded by Holly's band The Crickets.
They recorded the song in Clovis, New Mexico, on May 27, 1957, the same day the song "Everyday" was recorded. The song's rhythm pattern is a variant of the Bo Diddley beat (with the second stress occurring on the second, rather than third beat of the first measure) which itself was an update of the so-called "hambone" rhythm, or "patted juba" from Western Africa; Crickets drummer Jerry Allison pounded out the beat on a cardboard box. Allison, Holly's best friend, also claims to have written part of the lyrics, though his name never appeared in the songwriting credits. The other performer on the song was Joe Mauldin on double bass. The backing vocalists on the recording are most likely Holly, Allison, and Niki Sullivan, although this is not known for certain.
Along with the familiar Take 2 of "Not Fade Away", there exists a Take 1 whose first verse is missing; it has been released with the first part of Take 1 spliced onto it. Originally released as the B-side to the hit "Oh, Boy!", "Not Fade Away" was also included on the album The "Chirping" Crickets (1958).
In 1964, The Rolling Stones' cover of "Not Fade Away", with its strong emphasis on the Bo Diddley beat, became a major hit in Britain and served as the A-side of the band's first US single.
The Rolling Stones' version of "Not Fade Away" was one of their first classic hits. Recorded in late January 1964 and released by Decca on February 21, 1964 with "Little by Little" as the B-side, it was their first Top 5 hit in Great Britain, reaching #3. In March 1964, it was also the Rolling Stones' first single release in the United States, on the London Records label, with "I Wanna Be Your Man" as the B-side (briefly preceded by "Stoned", which had immediately been withdrawn). The single reached #48 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. The single also reached #44 on the Cashbox pop singles chart in the U.S. and #33 in Australia based on the Kent Music Report. "Not Fade Away" was not on the UK version of their debut album, The Rolling Stones, but was the opening track of the US version released a month later as England's Newest Hitmakers. It was a mainstay at Rolling Stones concerts in their early years, usually opening the shows. It was revived in that capacity for their 1994-95 Voodoo Lounge Tour.
Crow released her rendition of the song in 2007 as a charity single along with a national advertising campaign for Revlon Colorist. The single was made available on iTunes, racking up over 19,000 paid downloads and spawning a six-week US tour in support of the campaign.
The Rush version of "Not Fade Away" was their debut single, released in 1973, eventually peaking at #88 in Canada. The B-side of this single, "You Can't Fight It", was the first original song Rush released. The single is rare and highly sought-after by collectors. Neither one of these songs was ever officially released on CD.
The film Christine (1983), adapted from the eponymous Stephen King novel, features two versions of the song played back to back: The Buddy Holly and the Crickets version of "Not Fade Away" appeared in the assembly line scene, which faded into the 1978 scene where the Tanya Tucker version is played while the main characters drive towards home after school.
A Jerry Garcia biography was titled Not Fade Away, The On-Line World Remember Jerry Garcia (1995). The song had been performed by The Grateful Dead and by the Jerry Garcia Band as a concert staple.
Ben Fong-Torres' book, Not Fade Away: A Backstage Pass to 20 Years of Rock & Roll (1999), is a collection of interviews and profiles from Rolling Stone magazine featuring behind-the-scenes accounts from the late 1960s through the 1980s.