Buddy Holly fan Magowan given credit for approval of Hollywood star
By William Kerns | A-J ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR
When Kevin Magowan asked for permission to work to obtain a Hollywood Boulevard star for Buddy Holly, the late singer-songwriter’s widow had no reason to believe the petitioner.
Maria Elena Holly had lost count of the friends and strangers who told her Holly deserved a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
No one had to convince her of that.
Twenty-five years after Holly and nine other recording artists became the inaugural class in Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, only one didn’t have a star on the walk.
Although many pointed out the gap, nobody wanted to devote the time, energy or money necessary to make Holly’s star a reality.
So, when Magowan offered, Maria dared not hope.
The journey to the star began with a pilgrimage.
Four years ago, Magowan left his job for a trip from Los Angeles and his family to the Norman Petty studio in Clovis, N.M., where Holly had recorded his hits.
Next stop: Lubbock — to visit every possible site related to Holly.
As money began running low, Magowan
continued to the Dallas-Fort Worth area to meet Holly’s widow.Maria recalls answering her phone and Magowan introducing himself and saying he’d love to talk with her about Buddy.
“I asked him, ‘Where are you?’ ” said Maria.
She continued, “And he told me, ‘I’m right here in the neighborhood.’ ”
She invited him over, and a friendship grew as they talked.
They spoke by telephone each month.
In November 2009, Magowan told Maria he wanted Holly to have a star.
She gave him her blessing, but says she was not confident.
Now she gives Magowan all the credit for Buddy Holly receiving his star at 1:30 p.m. today in a public ceremony on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Magowan chose the date, Sept. 7, Holly’s 75th birthday, obtained the financing and ensured Holly’s star would rest next to those of The Beatles in the shadow of the Capitol Records tower.
Magowan works in the music industry, overseeing synchronization rights for music whenever someone wants to link a song to an image on a television program or in the movies.
He lost track of the Holly project for a few months.
“I forgot about everything through the holidays,” he said. “Sometime in mid-March (2010), it just hit me that I didn’t even know the deadline yet.”
Magowan called the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and learned how to nominate Holly.
Next stop: the $25,000-per-star fee and the submission form, requiring Holly’s biography, discography and qualifications.
“I wrote all of that out, just using my head, all the facts about Buddy’s life and songs that I remembered,” said Magowan.
The form asked for examples of community service.
“I decided, for that part, I would ask five really important people to write letters supporting Holly,” Magowan said. “I was lucky that, because of my job, I know a lot of industry people and I can get past a lot of the usual red tape.”
He won’t reveal the names of the five, only to say they are part of the Buddy Holly story.
He mentioned the $25,000 fee to Maria Holly.
“I told Kevin that, for me to pay for Buddy’s star, would just look tacky. I wasn’t going to do it,” she said.
Magowan had ideas — exactly three: Paul McCartney’s MPL Communications, Peer Music and Universal Records.
McCartney has purchased Holly’s music catalog.
Peer also handled Holly’s music. Maria worked as a secretary at Peer in New York when Holly met her and proposed the same day.
Universal Records distributes Holly’s music.
Magowan received permission from Maria to approach all three, and each agreed to pay one-third of the $25,000 fee.
With the May 31, 2010, deadline four days away, Magowan turned in his proposal with the money.
He didn’t have to wait long, but it felt like eons.
On June 17, Magowan received approval.
Buddy would receive his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Four days later, Magowan took his teenage son, Ryan, with him for a drive to Hollywood Boulevard.
He took pictures of the site where he wanted Holly’s star.
Although the approval came in plenty of time for a ceremony on Holly’s birthday last year, Magowan wanted it to be on the 75th birthday.
“Everything was defined in my mind,” said Magowan. “It made perfect cosmic sense. It was my vision.”
But he wasn’t through.
Magowan again called Ana Martinez, nicknamed StarGirl, at the Hollywood chamber. She had helped produce dozens of star ceremonies. Magowan wanted Phil Everly as a presenter.
Later, the list finalized: Everly — one of Holly’s close friends and a pallbearer at his funeral, music producer Peter Asher and actor Gary Busey.
Buddy Holly Day
Magowan recalled seeing Los Angeles City Councilman Tom Labonge at a John Lennon ceremony, so he knew the official liked music.
So Magowan wrote to Labonge, asking the City Council to declare Sept. 7, 2011, “Buddy Holly Day” in Los Angeles.
This, too, came to pass.
Since Saturday, Magowan has planned Maria Elena Holly’s days in Los Angeles, and served as her escort.
He was able to book appearances on radio show “Breakfast with the Beatles” and television’s “Good Morning LA,” all to spread the word and increase attendance at today’s ceremony.
“I don’t know. A few hundred would be nice,” he said when predicting attendance.
“Not many people would take so much time to do this when they have a family and a job,” Maria said.
But Magowan said he acted on a passion and a desire to do the right thing for Buddy.
“And in the end,” he later declared, “all is as it should be.”
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Lubbock’s most famous native son would turn 75 Wednesday. To honor Buddy Holly and his legacy, the A-J will be running the following stories:
■ Saturday: “Down the Line” A look at James and Patty Simpson’s cornfield maze in Buddy’s likeness.
■ Sunday: “Not Fade Away” — Phil Everly, Graham Nash and a host of others tell A-J entertainment editor Bill Kerns why Buddy’s music remains relevant today.
■ Monday: “Rave On” — How his birthday will be celebrated in Hollywood.
■ Wednesday: “Crying, Waiting, Hoping” — The man responsible for Buddy’s Hollywood Star tells how a dream became reality.
■ Thursday: “Oh Boy!” — Coverage of Buddy’s star on the Walk of Fame; Lubbock’s soiree
■ Friday: “Well … All Right” — Coverage of an all-star concert supporting a second tribute album released this year.
If you miss a day, all these stories and more are on our Buddy Holly Archives at http://www.buddyhollyarchives.com/.
■ Age: 55.
■ Birthday: March 29.
■ Family: Wife Leslie; daughter Kaitlin, 20; son Ryan, 15.
■ Birthplace: Las Vegas, Nev.
■ Home: Burbank, Calif.
■ Occupation: Supervising music clearance, licensing for EMG, Inc. in Studio, City, Calif.
■ I drive: SUV Grand Jeep Cherokee.
■ Favorite music style: Roots rockin’ country rock ’n’ roll / 3 chords and the Truth. I also love heart-filled love songs.
■ Favorite Buddy Holly song: Differs every day; I am in love with “The Apartment Tapes.”
■ Favorite singer, male: Elvis Presley.
■ Favorite singer, female: Judy Garland.
■ Favorite band: The Beatles.
■ Recent CD purchased: “So Beautiful or So What,” by Paul Simon.
■ Favorite concert venue: Greek Theatre.
■ Place I like to take LA visitors: My home.
■ Favorite vacation spot: Somewhere I have not visited before.
■ Favorite book: “Conversations with God, Volume 1.”
■ I am now reading: Music magazines.
■ Favorite movie: “Gone with the Wind.”
■ Last film seen at a theater: “Cowboys and Aliens.”
■ Last film purchased: “Love Eat Pray.”
■ Favorite TV show: “Boardwalk Empire.”
■ Favorite meal: Mexican at El Coyote on Beverly Boulevard in Hollywood.
■ I am aggravated by: People who do not respond.
■ Morning or night person: Both.
■ Coffee or tea: Coffee.
■ “Star Wars” or “Star Trek”: “Star Wars.”
■ Five people, living or dead, I’d like to hang with: Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, John Lennon, Ben Franklin and Mark Twain.
■ One thing my friends don’t know about me: My friends know me.
■ When I want to relax, I: Play my guitar and sing songs I have written (and) covers of Buddy, the Beatles, Dylan and Springsteen.
Today at Buddy Holly Center
■ 11 a.m. — screening of “The Real Buddy Holly Center.”
■ 1:30 p.m. — Streaming Internet coverage of Buddy Holly’s star ceremony on Hollywood Walk of Fame, with presentations by Phil Everly, Peter Asher and Gary Busey.
■ 3 p.m. — Guided tour of Buddy Holly Gallery at Buddy Holly Center, led by center curator Jacqueline Bober. Guest appearance by Ramona and Gary Tollett.
■ 4 p.m. — Buddy’s birthday cake and punch served.
■ 5:30 p.m. — Music by The Prophets of Rockabilly, with special guest J.P. McDermott.
■ 7:30 p.m. — Music by Jack Neal & Friends, tribute to Holly and music historian Bill Griggs.
■ 8 p.m. — Music by Mike Pritchard and Mark Wallney.