Buddy Holly's widow is threatening to sue Peggy Sue

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/ Source: The Associated Press

Buddy Holly's widow is trying to keep the woman whose name was made famous by the 1950s hit song "Peggy Sue" from selling a book about her friendship with the rocker.

Maria Elena Holly says Peggy Sue Gerron's "Whatever Happened to Peggy Sue?" is unauthorized and will harm her late husband's name, her own reputation and that of her company, Holly Properties.

"It's very interesting that this woman makes up all these stories," Maria Elena Holly said Friday from her home in Dallas. "He never, never considered Peggy Sue a friend."

Gerron, who lives in Lubbock, said she and another woman wrote the 283-page book because 2008 is the 50th anniversary of the release of "Peggy Sue." Buddy Holly also recorded "Peggy Sue Got Married."

Gerron said material for the book came from about 150 diary entries she wrote during the time she knew the singer, she said.

"I wanted to give him his voice. It's my book, my memoirs," she said from Tyler, where her publishing company held a news conference Friday defending Gerron's right to pen her biography. "We were very, very good friends. He was probably one of the best friends I ever had."

Maria Elena Holly said she would sue if excerpts she's read online appear in the book, which is due in bookstores later this month.

"I don't understand why people do that, especially when she knows that people know the truth," she said.

This week, her attorney, Richard Wallace, sent a cease-and-desist letter to TogiEntertainment Inc., an Oklahoma City-based publishing house. Wallace declined to comment Friday.

Buddy Holly died Feb. 3, 1959, in a plane crash that also killed singers Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson. Holly was 22.

Maria Elena Holly, who married the singer just months before the crash, has for years owned the rights to her late husband's name, image and related trademarks, and other intellectual properties, the letter said.

No one involved in the book's publication sought consent to use Buddy Holly's name or image _ "his likeness will be featured prominently" on the book's cover and the subtitle reads, "Memoirs of Buddy Holly's Peggy Sue," according to the letter.

"Confusion and tarnishment of Buddy Holly's name and Ms. Holly's reputation are likely to result from this unauthorized book," the letter states.

It demands the ceasing of promotion and sale of the book, removal of the subtitle and cancellation of all book orders. It also asks for refunds on any deposits for the book and for an accounting of revenues from any sales.

Mark Faulk, chief executive officer of TogiEntertainment, said the threat of a lawsuit won't deter Gerron or his company.

"It's obvious that they do not want the work released," he said. "My feeling is that Maria Elena fears the truth will come out about Buddy Holly. If there is a lawsuit, our belief is that it will be totally frivolous."

Buddy Holly's brother, Larry Holley, said "Peggy Sue" was not the original name in the song. Buddy Holly initially intended to use "Cindy Lou," his niece, Larry Holley said.

Maria Elena Holly said her husband changed the name after Crickets drummer Jerry Allison asked him to because he had a crush on Gerron. Allison and Gerron married in July 1958.