After the recent postings about rock musicians who had just died (as well as the comments about the necessity of those same posts), I thought I’d collect from various trips photos from locations related to the first dead rock star who started the introspection that seems unique to rock musicians—people searching for some larger meaning. Buddy Holly was the first, and seems to be the benchmark to compare all future dead rock musicians.
To be clear, I took these photos, but they were taken over several trips over the years.
The Buddy Holly Center is a museum devoted to Buddy Holly (who was from Lubbock).
Unfortunately, the museum did not allow photography. There was a separate room with the guitars of Texas performers (which did allow photography).
Some noteworthy things: His career lasted only 18 months before the plane crash that killed him; he maintained legal control of his music (unlike so many of his contemporaries); he produced his own work (in a studio in nearby Clovis).
On display were his trademark glasses that he was wearing when the plane went down. His Fender Stratocaster was also on display--the guitar was back on the tour bus; not with him on the plane. Overall, I was impressed by the quality of the museum. It was much more thorough and professional than I would have expected.
A documentary of Buddy Holly ran continuously in an adjacent room.
I suppose in England the name “Crickets” would make as much sense as if it were “Buddy Holly and the Baseballs” in this country. With the group (in London) are two famous (it said) cricket players. Everybody's being a good port with this goofy P.R. setup.
Clovis, New Mexico is where Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison recorded their first hit records.
The Winter Dance Party at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa on February 2, 1959, starring:
Buddy Holly, with this band:
Waylon Jennings (bass)
Tommy Allsup (guitar)
Carl Bunch (drums)
Dion DiMucci and the Belmonts
The ballroom is larger and better than I imagined. Its history encompasses the entire big-band era as well as the early rock & roll period that it has come to be known for.
It has been restored and resurrected and is in excellent shape.
Things are exactly as I can imagine they always were, from the cloakroom to the telephone booth (where Buddy made his last call to his wife).
The stage is large, but the dance floor dominates.
There are tables and booths at the rear and along one side of the floor.
The rooms at the entrance are now a museum of displays for Buddy Holly (and the others) as well as all the many performers who have played at this ballroom over the years.
February 3, 1959
Just after the performance, Holly, Valens, Richardson with the pilot Roger Peterson took off in a V35 Beechcraft from the nearby Mason City airport for a flight to Fargo, North Dakota. They didn't get far.
The path to the crash site is marked by a large pair of glasses at the edge of a gravel road. It's about a 1/4-mile dirt trail along the fence line to the point where the remains of the airplane mostly ended up.
A variety of markers and mementoes--some more permanent than others--marks the spot.
I expected to see guitar picks on his grave marker; but, there were only coins (on the marker, the spelling of “Holley” is correct. Buddy used “Holly” after Decca records spelled it wrong on a contract).