The Ramkota Hotel Presents: Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story This Month at Ford Wyoming Center

The Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa has become a sanctuary of the loss of innocence for rock ‘n’ roll fans, the place where the first rockers my holly mate, Ritchie Valens and JP ”The big bopper”Richardson gave his last performances on February 2, 1959, just before he died in a plane crash – later lamented as“ The Day the Music Died ”in the Don McLean song.

Buddy: The Story of Buddy Holly tells the enduring story of the musical icon’s meteoric rise and legendary last performance at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, before his tragic and untimely death at the age of 22. In just 18 months, the Texas born rock ‘n’ roller has revolutionized the face of contemporary music influencing everyone from the Beatles to Bruce Springsteen. Inside the Ford Wyoming Center, audiences of all ages will be treated to 20 of Buddy Holly’s greatest hits, including timeless classics “This will be the day“”, “Peggy sweats“”, “Oh boy” and “Rave on”.

In modern times, it stands to reason that many rock and roll stars and musicians of all genres live fast and die young, but Buddy: The Story of Buddy Holly will transport you to a time of genuine fun and carefree innocence of 1950s America. Prepare for a night when music lives!

Book your tickets today and be sure to book your stay at the Ramkota Casper Hotel.

For anyone too young to remember what is now etched in rock and roll history, it was just after midnight on February 3, 1959, in the frozen Iowa winter landscape where Buddy Holly s ‘is found with his comrades cold and greedy for all things. , free time to do laundry. So instead of traveling 350 miles by bus to the next leg of the tour in Minnesota, Buddy chartered a plane to take him there with his band members Waylon Jennings and Tommy Allsup. Jennings relinquished his seat to JP and Tommy Allsup lost his seat in a draw with Valens.

Unfortunately, their pilot was an unskilled local, young like Buddy and only 21 years old. The plane, a 1947 Beechcraft Bonanza, flew only six miles before crashing, killing all three American rock ‘n’ roll pioneers as well as pilot Roger Peterson, crashing in a field several miles away. north of the Surf Ballroom, where the first rock stars had finished a gig a few hours earlier. It was one of the first tragedies to strike modern American music and a figurative end to 1950s culture. Don McLean coined it “The Day Music Died” in his 1971 opus “American Pie”.

And the events that unfolded on February 3, 1959 at the airport in Mason City, Iowa, haunted one of Holly’s band mates – an ancestor of the original outlaw country music movement. – for the coming years.

Young Waylon Jennings played bass in Holly’s backing band for the “Winter Dance Party” tour and offered his seat on the plane to sick JP Richardson.

1959 Winter dance party Randy Bachman collection poster

As the tour had been unceremoniously blocked on more than one occasion this winter, and before take off, Holly joked to Jennings that she hoped the bus broke down. Jennings responded with “I hope your old plane crashes. “

In a 1999 interview with CMT, Jennings said, “I was so scared for many years that someone would find out I said that.” Jennings continued, “Somehow I blamed myself. Added to this was the feeling of guilt that I was still alive. I hadn’t brought anything to the world at that time compared to Buddy.

“Why would he die and not me?” It took a long time to figure this out, and it made some big changes in my life – the way I thought about things. “

Photo of Sharon Lassiter (Waylon Jennings-01/30/59, Laramar Ballroom, Ft. Dodge, IA)

Jennings and Holly had bonded in Buddy’s hometown of Lubbock, Texas. Jennings made records on the local radio station KLLL where Buddy would go during his shifts. In 1958, the “Peggy Sue” star produced Jennings’ debut record, an excerpt from the Cajun standard “Jole Blon”.

The friendship led Jennings to choose a bass for the “Winter Dance”, a tour he told Rolling Stone in 1973 that Holly only did “because he was broke.” Broken dish.

Buddy Holly in concert, circa 1959, Rolling Stone Magazine

Although bad weather and an inexperienced pilot were the cause of the crash, in a broader sense it could be attributed to the economics of the early years of the rock’n’roll industry.

Holly’s royalty rate on records sold was quite favorable for the day – five percent times ninety percent of the retail price of records sold.

However, as a co-writer with Jerry Allison and Petty, Holly received only 16 2 / 3s percent of the songwriter royalties from the Crickets’ debut hit, “That’ll Be the Day.” The remaining 50% of the royalties went to music publishing companies Peer-Southern and Nor-Va-Jak Music, the latter owned by Norman and Vi Petty.

In addition, the purpose of the tour was to promote record sales. Net revenues from touring were often quite low, especially compared to revenues from sales. Holly had paid for the rental of the plane out of pocket.

No doubt Petty took risks as a producer and deserved compensation for his efforts, but was his percentage higher than he deserved?

The question is not easy to answer. Holly and The Crickets did not produce any hits before recording with Petty at her studio in Clovis, New Mexico, where Petty charged a flat fee for the recording rather than the hourly rate that was the norm at the time. and today.

The “Winter Dance Party” lasted two weeks after the accident, including that night in Moorhead, Minnesota. Jennings continued her musical career, forging a famous outlaw sound heard on records from the 1970s such as “Dreaming My Dreams” and “The Ramblin ‘Man”.

Jennings was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001. He died of complications from diabetes in 2002.

“Buddy was the first guy who trusted me,” Jennings told CMT. “Hell, I had as much star quality as an old shoe. But he really loved me and believed in me.

Unlike the official “Day the Music Died” shrine located nearby Surf ballroom, where the trio performed their last concert, the memorial at the crash site is strictly DIY. In fact, the site didn’t even have a memorial until 1988, when music fan Ken Paquette made a stainless steel monument of a guitar and three records with the names of the three rockers. In 2009, he also made a memorial for the pilot.

Much like Surfing, the crash site is the same as it was in 1959: a secluded spot in a giant field in Iowa. The access point on the nearest farm road is marked with a large pair of Holly-branded glasses. It’s a long walk from there to the crash site, but the patch of bare land in front of the memorial shows many fans making the trek.

The memorial is a repository of offerings: plastic flowers, spare change, Mardi Gras beads, small American flags, glasses, even a rusty 1959 Iowa license plate (if more people knew the history of laundry, they could leave clean socks and underwear). A swirl made of Jello molds turns in the breeze. The fragility of these objects suggests that the site is frequently watched, and the only recent graffiti on the large glasses shows that it is probably repainted every year.


Most visitors don’t realize that when they stand south of the memorial, taking photos, they are literally at the spot where Buddy Holly’s body was thrown from the plane, as seen in the dark ones. newspaper photos posted on Surf and in the news. reports.

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Buddy, Ritchie, and The Bopper have achieved immortality, but not in a way anyone would have chosen. If they had stuck to their initial transportation plan after the gig, who knows how long their careers might have flourished? Much like the original 1959 tour billed as an event for ages 8 to 80, you will find Buddy: The Story of Buddy Holly suitable for all ages. Book your tickets today and reserve your stay at the Ramkota Casper Hotel.

About Elizabeth Smith

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