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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Buddy Holly's Last Gig-The Surf Ballroom


On our way back from Tom’s cousin’s, we headed over to Clear Lake, Iowa. Remember our trip a couple of months ago to Buddy Holly’s birthplace and favorite recording studio? Since Buddy Holly was one of Tom’s idols when he was young, and Tom being Historic Tom, we finished the Buddy Holly Tour at the Surf Ballroom.

  
The Surf was the last gig he played.  


Totally retro, the Surf Ballroom's dance floor is ringed with booths where teens could snack, drink, and chat while listening to their favorite entertainers.
 

 Tom’s cousin Donna and her husband Richard might have been in the audience listening to Richie Valens singing his hit “Donna.”   
  

They weren’t really there, of course, but they could have been, for they were both teenagers in neighboring Wisconsin in 1959.   

The Ballroom has been around since the 1940s and hosted many famous entertainers, including Lawrence Welk and even Xavier Cugat and Abbe Lane, Tom’s dad’s favorites in the 1950s. 


I don't think his father’s interest in Abbe Lane was purely musical

Attempting to escape from their awful, unheated tour bus and a tour route designed in Hell, they rented a small plane to take them to Fargo, ND, their next stop.      


 One of the band members flipped a coin with Ritchie Valens to see who would go in the small plane. He lost-----or won,-----and is still alive today. Urban legend has it that the coin-toss loser was Waylon Jennings, Holly’s bass player, but we learned here at the Surf Ballroom it was actually the fortunate Tommy Allsup. So on the plane were Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper.

 The path to the crash site is clearly marked by Holly’s “glasses.”

In the middle of a cornfield there are two memorials: one for the three stars who were killed and another for the pilot.
  

     Some visitors leave Buddy Holly-style glasses, and some leave liquor bottles.   

Miss Pearl was glad we were done with Buddy Holly and on our way back to New Mexico.     


Another adventure of Gray Highways with Tom Boyle.

1 comment:

  1. I always heard that Waylon was the one in the coin toss. I think he even claimed to be the one. Interesting! I remember well the day it happened--the day the music died!

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