The Music Lives on in Lubbock (Sort Of)

Travel Blog  •  Sophia Dembling  •  02.03.09 | 1:51 PM ET

Photo by Sophia Dembling

Eva has gotten the conversation rolling about today’s big anniversary—it was 50 years ago today that a plane carrying Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens crashed. This is particularly poignant here in Texas, where we feel possessive of our homegrown icon.

Holly’s death was, arguably, the most tragic in rock history. His sound is unique, he was a pioneer in recording technique—that’s a cardboard box providing percussion in “Not Fade Away” and he plays his knees in “Every Day.” Holly influenced our greatest rock legends and his legacy continues. (Marginally related, Mac Davis, who also grew up in Lubbock, Texas, once told me that he would see Holly driving through town with a car full of girls and decided he wanted some of that. And then he went on to write, “Happiness Was Lubbock Texas in My Rear View Mirror.”)

We are much poorer for never hearing what Holly might have produced as he matured.

Rock fans should be required to make a pilgrimage to the excellent Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock, Texas, which takes his music and legacy as seriously as he did. (Those are the glasses he wore the night he died—they’re on display at the center. They sat forgotten in the desk drawer of a sheriff until the 1980s.)

I’d post a video for you, but Holly also was a pioneer in protecting his intellectual rights and his estate continues to maintain tight control. I respect that. We’ll settle for this right now:


Sophia Dembling

Dallas-based writer Sophia Dembling is co-author of the Flyover America blog and author of "The Yankee Chick's Survival Guide to Texas." She would love to hear your tales of America, so drop her an email.

17 Comments for The Music Lives on in Lubbock (Sort Of)

Eva Holland 02.03.09 | 3:57 PM ET

Thanks, Sophia. I hadn’t heard of the Buddy Holly Center—Lubbock just went on my list!

I know Holly gets most of the attention for good reason, being the big influencer-of-future-artists of the group, but I wanted to give a shout-out to Ritchie Valens, too. “La Bamba” is one of my earliest movie memories (I watched it on TV in 1989) and I remember the coin toss/plane crash pretty vividly. The other scene I remember most clearly? Ritchie singing “Donna” over the phone…

I think Holly/Valens/Big Bopper, Otis Redding and the Bar-Kays, and Patsy Kline would be my Top 3 most tragic musical-plane-crashes. Especially with Buddy Holly and Otis, it’s tough to think about what they might have gone on to do/create/

Sophie 02.03.09 | 4:24 PM ET

Yeah, I totally agree with you on the tragic crashes, but I think Holly might have changed music most of all. And so young young young.

Will you get to Nashville? The Country Music Hall of Fame Museum has on display a lighter found near the Patsy Cline crash site that kinda gave me goose bumps.

Michael Yessis 02.03.09 | 4:24 PM ET

The Center is on my list, too.

Love the shot of the glasses, by the way.

Jenna Schnuer 02.03.09 | 4:35 PM ET

Ah, Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame. Love love love it.

And, yeah, The Buddy Holly Center is now on my list, too. Love this line Sophie:

“We are much poorer for never hearing what Holly might have produced as he matured.”

Valerie Conners 02.03.09 | 4:38 PM ET

That line of Sophie’s grabbed me as, well, Jenna. I’ve always loved Holly, and truly been haunted wondering what on earth that man would have created. Lubbock road trip, anyone?

Jay 02.03.09 | 5:21 PM ET

Living here in Lubbock all my 52 years, I still haven’t been to the Buddy Holly Center. Mainly because of his widow Maria being such a b!!!!tch. Always wanting money everytime Lubbock wants to do anything with Buddy’s name. The building isn’t much to look at. But in a couple of years, their going to move Buddy’s statue and the West Texas Music Walk of Fame across the street from the Buddy Holly Center. So that’ll be special. It’ll be named something like “The Buddy & Maria Elena Holly Plaza”, or something like that. And it’s Maria’s idea to have her name put on the plaza. You know, I don’t ever recall her hit single. Hmmmmmmm…

Sophie 02.03.09 | 7:42 PM ET

Yeah, I’ve definitely heard those gripes! I’m of two minds about it, in a way. As an American icon, he belongs to us all, but should it be a free-for-all to profit from his name? Dunno, really. The Elvis estate controlled his name and likeness long as it could.  Now, I believe, it’s become a corporation.

And yeah, I don’t thinks she needs her name on the plaza. I bet nobody ever uses the full name. It will be Buddy Holly Plaza everywhere but on the plaque.

TambourineMan 02.04.09 | 5:07 AM ET

Eva, “La Bamba” is decent. However, I give the edge to “Buddy Holly Story” with Gary Abusey as Buddy. At least Abusey did his own singing and playing.

Sophia, is the glass in Buddy’s glasses still intact? Looks like it is, but not sure.

Speaking of dead man’s glasses, am I the only one STILL pissed at Yoko for that anti-gun campaign featuring a picture of John’s shattered bloody glasses? Yeah, we know, Yoko. Guns suck. Thanks for bumming us out.

Meryl 02.04.09 | 4:35 PM ET

I don’t see myself getting to Lubbock anytime soon (I’m in NYC), but the fact that the Buddy Holly Center has enshrined Buddy’s leatherworking kit and homework delights me no end.

Bill 02.04.09 | 5:19 PM ET

For Jay and all other Maria bashers out there;
Remember that there are two sides of every story. What you have not read about (and will never be published) in the local rag is that the City did not hold up there end of the bargain, so the only retaliation she had was to stick to the city.
Would you have done the same? You’re a fool if you say no.

Sophia Dembling 02.04.09 | 5:55 PM ET

I’m embarrassed that I can’t remember if the glass was intact but looking at a larger version of my photo, I think not.

They also have Buddy Holly’s contact lenses on display, and what instruments of torture those look like! Huge! According to the museum curator when I visited, he wore them once then told his mother that people would just have to like him with his glasses.

Yeah, I remember that anti-gun campaign. But I forgive Yoko since after the two minutes of silence she held for John shortly after he was murdered. I was in Central Park, near the Dakota, for that. It was exactly what we needed to lift the mood in the city.

Jay 02.04.09 | 5:56 PM ET

3 things.
(1) TambourineMan, I don’t think his glasses are intact. I think I read in his autopsy report, which you can get online, that the glasses were mangled, and possibly a lense is missing.
(2) Meryl, I went to the same high school as Buddy. Lubbock High School, I’m Class of ‘75. I know, hold the applause. But I can remember looking at the glass cases, where they hold trophies, etc., there was some of his homework and other things. When your 16 or 17, it’s wasn’t that big of a deal. But now??? I wish I’d paid better attention to it.
(3) Bill, the city has bent over backwards for THAT woman. She’s been invited to everything in Lubbock that has anything to do for Buddy. She refuses everytime. Why? Because the city won’t pay for her luxury 5 star hotel. It’s also figuring out that we don’t have to pay her a dime. We can have a festival of some kind, usually around his birthday. How do we not pay her any money for that? We just don’t use Buddy’s name. When his birthday comes around, and you hear from TV or radio who’s coming to town for a concert? Well duh…...
Even his brothers are sick of her, oh me, what’s that poop word I’m looking for?
Thanks for letting me vent. Ya’ll really do need to come to Lubbock. If nothing else, just to see the Buddy Holly Center, his statue, and even his gravesite. Pretty damn neat.

Sophia Dembling 02.04.09 | 5:58 PM ET

I’m definitely planning a return trip, Jay, hopefully to see Frank Warren (the Post Secret guy) speak at Texas Tech next month.

Sophia Dembling 02.04.09 | 6:35 PM ET

Actually, as I recall (I can’t put my hands on my story notes at the moment) one of Holly’s contact lenses actually popped out on stage the only time he wore them…

TambourineMan 02.04.09 | 7:16 PM ET

Sophia, re: Yoko. Ok, fair enough.

Wow, who knew Maria Holly was such a controversial figure.

Sophia Dembling 02.04.09 | 7:18 PM ET

Maria-related squabbles pop up from time to time in Texas newspapers.

Olivia Ballard 03.02.09 | 8:07 PM ET

I can’t help but be redundant and also contribute to the very cool glasses.  I think his contribution to the music we loved then and other music that branched off of it has influenced the clothing style we see today . . . with the glasses.  In a way, he showed us that you can be “the good guy” and still rock on.  You can wear the glasses and be really cool.  Buddy shows us that we can be ourselves. Unlike the glamorous music celebrities, he could really relate to us. Thanks, Buddy.  We miss you and we love you.

Olivia B.
San Francisco car accident lawyer

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