Holly’s widow seeks to stop Birthday Bash
BY WILLIAM KERNS | A-J entertainment editor
The organizers of a Sept. 9 concert by Buddy Holly impersonator Johnny Rogers have been slow to identify themselves, but attorney Stephen Easley, representing client Maria Elena Holly, intends to take them to court if they follow through with the concert.
Independent promoter Larry Baker, claiming to represent the businesses on Buddy Holly Avenue and in the Depot District, said Thursday the show will go on as scheduled.
The concert originally was billed as a Buddy Holly Birthday Bash. It is to take place outdoors in Depot Alley behind Melt, 1711 Texas Ave.
Baker said the concert’s name actually is the Buddy Holly Avenue Birthday Bash, although he said he also refers to it as the Forbidden Concert.
Easley, based in Washington, D.C., said he sent cease and desist letters to KDAV Radio, station owner William Clements and the general management at Melt Restaurant and Lounge.
Maria Holly owns the rights to Buddy Holly’s name, image and likeness. Promoters must negotiate for her permission before using Holly’s name or photograph.
Easley emphasized he also represents the Buddy Holly Center because Maria Holly granted an exclusive license for use of the Holly name and trademarks in Lubbock for the next 20 years to the center.
“The Buddy Holly Center has a Birthday Bash of its own planned for Buddy’s birthday (Wednesday), and that is the event that has Mrs. Holly’s support,” said Easley.
Easley thought the cease and desist letter was being obeyed.
“The use of Buddy’s name and image has been removed from the (KDAV) website, and places I’ve seen,” said Easley. “And we will have people there in Lubbock to report if anything happens.”
Baker said, “The advertising was removed. Who cares? It’s been going on for 45 days. But we’re going on with the concert and the after-party at the Corner Bar.”
He said the Corner Bar is a new business. No street address or phone number was available Thursday.
The promoter noted Ingrid Kaiter and Eddy Weir, Buddy Holly’s niece and nephew, respectively, were hired to open the show. Both of them dropped off the show after Easley’s letters were received.
Baker said, “I understand why they left. I don’t want anything to happen to them as family members, and Maria Elena scared them off.”
Even though the event is taking place two days after Buddy Holly’s 75th birthday, Baker said businesses on Buddy Holly Avenue can hold a concert and call it the Buddy Holly Avenue Birthday Bash without breaking Maria Holly’s licensing agreement.
Asked which businesses are taking part, Baker answered, “Every business on Buddy Holly Avenue signed a loud speaker agreement, allowing us to have the show. They displayed their support when they signed the agreement, which you can see at the city secretary’s office. And Melt is the main organizer and is catering the show.”
No one representing Melt as owner or manager could be reached Thursday.
Select-A-Seat box office manager Lisa Burns said her ticketing contract lists sources as “KDAV, Larry Baker.”
KDAV owner Clements could not be reached, but KDAV business manager Peggy Sue Gerron stated via email, “Bill C. is not producing this concert, and I’m certainly not. I’m only aware of this event due to the fact it is being advertised on KDAV, 1590 AM. As KDAV’s business manager, you know that is what we do here. This is being brought to you by some of the businesses on Buddy Holly Avenue.”
But Easley also is concerned with the entertainment. He said there are several licensed Buddy Holly impersonators, and Johnny Rogers is not one of them.
At least once, Maria Holly has shut down Rogers’ act, accusing him of unauthorized use of her property, the attorney said.
Holly welcomes celebrations of Buddy Holly and his music, and she does not want to stop anyone from celebrating, Easley emphasized.
He added, however, that this federal law must be followed to the letter because, “Under federal trademark and copyright law, if you do not protect your (trade)marks, if you do not approach those making unauthorized use of them, it can be deemed by the court as abandoning your (trade)marks. In this case, what is most important is that the Buddy Holly Center’s rights are not violated.”
Baker accused Maria Holly of keeping a Buddy Holly Festival from taking place in Lubbock.
“Clear Lake (Iowa, where Holly died in a plane crash) has a yearly festival that is hugely successful,” Baker said. “Clovis, N.M., where Buddy recorded, has a great festival. Maria does not even own Buddy’s songs; Paul McCartney does. Lubbock is where Buddy is from, but there’s no festival.”
He said Rogers ranks with the best Holly impersonators and predicted a line of people trying to get in to the free after-party.
Easley added, “Had the organizers approached Mrs. Holly or myself, we would have encouraged them to speak to the Buddy Holly Center and try to work with them as part of the official celebration.”
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