Joe B. Mauldin, whose bass playing in Buddy Holly's innovative group the Crickets helped shape early rock and roll, has passed away.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Mauldin died in Nashville following a battle with cancer. He was 74.

Born in Lubbock, Texas in 1940, Mauldin played in a group called the Four Teens prior to meeting Holly, who was then a struggling musician. Mauldin was 17 when he started with Holly, who had been dropped from a solo deal with Decca after three unsuccessful recordings. His contract with the label stated he could not re-record his material for another company for five years, so Holly got around that by forming a band to re-record the songs instead. Mauldin played bass on those Crickets sessions, along with drummer Jerry Allison and rhythm guitarist Niki Sullivan.

Mauldin and Allison wound up becoming one of the most influential rhythm sections in rock music history, with Allison's drums very prominent, while Mauldin played bass oftentimes by alternating the root note and fifth of each chord in the style of early country music. The resulting sound was a key element of rockabilly -- one of the earliest forms of rock music.

Holly died in a plane crash in 1959, but Mauldin continued with the Crickets until 1964, when he enlisted in the Army. He later moved to Los Angeles and worked as an engineer at Gold Star Studios before re-joining the Crickets in the '70s.

Mauldin remained a vital member of the band until his death on Feb. 7, 2015. His legacy remains; the bassist was inducted into the West Texas Walk of Fame in Lubbock, as well as the Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville. In 2012 Mauldin was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Crickets.

He is survived by his wife, Jane, and daughters Jennifer Mauldin and Melody Stephenson.

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