Peggy Sue Gerron, the inspiration for Buddy Holly’s 1957 hit song, has died in Lubbock, Texas, aged 78.
While she was the focus of the single, Peggy Sue was in fact in a relationship with Buddy Holly’s band mate in The Crickets, Jerry Allison.
She and Allison would marry in 1958, inspiring Holly’s song, Peggy Sue Got Married, released after Holly was killed in a plane crash in 1959.
Gerron died at the University Medical Center in Lubbock early on Monday.
Born in Olton, Texas, in 1940, Gerron grew up in Lubbock and went to high school with Holly and Allison.
In an interview with the BBC in 2009 she recounted first meeting Buddy Holly when he knocked her over on his way to a gig.
Weeks later she was on a date with Allison, who introduced her to his friend.
“And he started laughing,” Gerron said. “Jerry asked him what was so funny, and he said ‘I’ve already overwhelmed your Peggy Sue’.”
It is widely reported the song was initially called Cindy Lou, and that Allison asked Holly to change the title to win back Gerron after a break up – a claim she denies.
She first heard the hit song in a school auditorium, with hundreds of screaming teenagers.
“I was just delighted, I thought it was a fascinating song,” she said. “It’s really hard to stand still when you’re listening to Peggy Sue.”
Gerron and Allison divorced in 1964 and she moved to California to attend Pasadena Junior College.
According to her website, she remarried there and had two children, helped her husband set up a plumbing company and claims she became the first licensed woman plumber in California.
Gerron returned to Lubbock in 1995 to care for her mother and stayed there for the rest of her life.
“Peggy Sue was always just plain good to people,” friend Bryan Edwards told local paper the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
Mr Edwards knew her as a ham radio user, and said they would have an annual radio event “so that people would get on a certain frequency and talk to Peggy Sue”.
“That was a great thrill to those people to talk to her,” he said.