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Subject: December 31, 1958

Randy Steele
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Date Posted: Tue January 02, 2024 23:53:09

December 31, 1958.

1958 had been an exciting year in America. A fourteen-year-old boy named Bobby Fischer had won the United States Chess Championship. The Hula Hoop was introduced to kids, and Elvis Presley had been inducted into the U.S. Army. Rock-n-roll was still young and Elvis’ temporary absence in the music business would create an opportunity for aspiring artists and bands everywhere to make their mark. Under the guidance and management of Norma Petty, it seemed that no one seized that opportunity better than Buddy Holly and The Crickets.

Now a trio after the departure of Niki Sullivan in December, Buddy Holly and The Crickets were already on their fourth tour of the year, having traveled to Australia, Hawaii (before it was a state) and across the United States by the time Elvis was inducted into the Army on March 24th, On March 25th, the boys completed a month-long tour of England. Whether or not it was by design, these tours would result in Buddy Holly and The Crickets transforming from a local West Texas band to international rock and roll stars, creating a fandom that continues to this day.

After a whirlwind spring and early summer, completing the British tour, Alan Freed’s Big Beat Show (tour), and the Summer Dance Party, the boys were exhausted and in need of time off. Jerry Allison and Peggy Sue married in July. Buddy Holly and Maria Elena married in August. The newlyweds went to Mexico for their honeymoon. On the surface, the boys had it all…hit records, money, love, and fame. But the dynamics between Buddy Holly and The Crickets were changing. They were growing up too. Buddy Holly, Jerry Allison, and Jor B. Mauldin began having discussions about leaving Norman Petty.

Tensions were growing. Before Buddy and Jerry were both married, the boys were nearly inseparable. Not anymore. In fact, they rarely saw each other away from the stage. Shortly after returning from his honeymoon, Buddy Holly was back in Clovis, New Mexico at Norman Petty Studios, only this time as a producer. He produced recording sessions for two up and coming artists, Lou Giordano and a Lubbock deejay named Waylon Jennings.

After almost two months away from the stage, Buddy Holly and The Crickets were touring again, this time for “The Biggest Show of Stars of 1958 Autumn Edition”. This tour began October 3rd and finished 16 days later. There were more changes. The Roses now joined the band for this tour. Buddy and Maria Elena traveled in Buddy’s Cadillac and The Crickets and The Roses followed in a DeSoto station wagon. The band also made two television appearances with Dick Clark during this time. After appearing on “American Bandstand” on October 28th, The Crickets flew home to Texas. Buddy and Maria Elena drove home.

The guys had planned to meet with Norman Petty after they returned home to let him know they were headed in a different direction. When Buddy and Maria Elena traveled to Clovis for that meeting, they discovered that Jerry and Joe B. had already met with Norman and decided to remain under Norman’s management. Buddy Holly wanted to break from Norman Petty and now that he and Maria Elena were living in New York, he wanted to take control of his career. Now Buddy was not only breaking away from Norman Petty, he was now breaking away from The Crickets too, This may have come as a surprise to Buddy but a bigger surprise was coming.

For reasons unknown, there had been no communication between Buddy and his former bandmates since the meeting in Clovis. The Crickets wasted no time in finding a new musical direction. Less than three weeks after Buddy and Norman’s meeting, The Crickets were back recording at Norman Petty Studios, only now without Buddy Holly. In his place were their mutual friends Sonny Curtis and Earl Sinks. Buddy Holly suddenly found himself being a man without a band. He was off the music charts and out of the news.

There are many theories about what happened next. The Crickets had apparently moved on. Now Buddy needed to do the same. Buddy began writing new music and recording it into an Ampex recorder. He sent a letter to good friend and fellow artist Terry Noland (Church) about working together. He also accepted a chance to join a January/February tour of the frozen Midwest called the 1959 Winter Dance Party. Some suspect that it was Buddy Holly who pushed for this tour to be created. Now the tour was happening, and Buddy Holly needed a band.

Buddy and Maria Elena flow to Texas for the Christmas holiday. They spent time with the Holley family. On December 30th, Buddy traveled to Odessa, Texas to meet up with his friend Tommy Allsup, a superb guitar picker who was playing at the Silver Saddle Club. When Buddy arrived, Tommy was about to go onstage and yet his drummer had not yet shown up. Tommy asked Buddy to fill in and Buddy agreed. But before he did, Buddy removed his glasses and requested that Tommy not announce him.

The bond between Buddy Holly and Tommy Allsup was special. Tommy was not just a great picker. He had toured with Buddy and recorded with him in the studio. In simple terms, Buddy trusted Tommy and was comfortable with him on and off the stage. So in between sets at the Silver Saddle Club, Buddy was busy recruiting Tommy Allsup to join him on the 1959 Winter Dance Party Tour. Before the evening was over, Tommy Allsup and drummer Carl Bunch had agreed to join Buddy on the tour and Buddy returned to Lubbock that same night. Buddy also convinced KLLL deejay Waylon Jennings to learn to play bass and join the tour.

On December 31, 1958, Buddy Holly and his bride Maria Elena said their goodbyes to Buddy’s family and traveled to Lubbock Airport. At around 8:00 p.m. in the evening, they boarded a plane bound for New York. Buddy Holly and his bride Maria Elena arrived back in New York just before midnight. A brand new year, 1959, was now upon them. He The new year would bring brand new adventures and opportunities. It wouldn’t be long before Buddy was in his happy place, on the stage. Buddy had new music, a new band, a new tour, and a new direction. Unfortunately for Buddy Holly, a date with destiny was on the horizon.

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Subject Author Date
Re: December 31, 1958Larry ZinterWed January 03, 2024 20:46:33

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