Buddy Holly Archives

Celebrating the life and music of Buddy Holly

Video problem fails to spoil fun for many Lubbock fans

BY WILLIAM KERNS | A-J entertainment editor

Lubbock-born singer-songwriter Charles Hardin “Buddy” Holly was honored posthumously Wednesday — his 75th birthday — with the 2,447th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

More than 500 people swarmed to Los Angeles just to see the 11:30 a.m. ceremony in person, according to Ana Martinez, who has produced hundreds of similar ceremonies for the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.

Sarah Isett sports some Buddy Holly glasses near the statue of the Lubbock music great on Wednesday, which would have been his 75th birthday.

About 80 fans and Holly family members showed up at

the Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock by 1:30 p.m. Wednesday to observe a live video feed of the ceremony by KCBD-TV, said center director Brooke Witcher.

The hometown fans applauded whenever they heard fans in Hollywood cheering Holly’s name.

But the streaming Internet would not properly broadcast in Lubbock, and the half-hour video feed had problems.

Visuals never were sharp, but the real problem was the sound, which, for the largest part of the half hour, could not be understood at all.

Gary and Ramona Tollett, who sang backing vocals on Buddy Holly’s “That’ll Be the Day” 54 years ago, were not at all pleased.

Speaking for many, Gary at last concluded, “It was a waste of time. You couldn’t see anything. You darn sure couldn’t hear anything. Therefore, we did not enjoy anything. People all around me were getting up to leave the room.”

Responding to an email, Martinez called The Avalanche-Journal and reported Leron Gubler, president of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, was the emcee. Aside from Buddy’s widow, Maria Elena Holly, and Phil Everly, Peter Asher and Gary Busey — and everyone could hear Busey say, “God bless Buddy Holly! — the only other person to speak was Los Angeles City Councilman Tom Labonge,

It was Labonge who, acting upon Los Angeles resident Kevin Magowan’s request, enticed the City Council to vote and decree Wednesday — Sept. 7, Buddy Holly’s birthday — to be “Buddy Holly Day” in all of LA.

Meanwhile, at the Buddy Holly Center, a number of fans asked why the Lubbock City Council had not followed suit and decreed Wednesday to be “Buddy Holly Day” in Lubbock, the musician’s hometown.

Despite the unexpected technical glitch, it appeared most visitors stayed and capitalized on the fun offered throughout the day at the Buddy Holly Center.

No doubt deserving some praise for lifting spirits were British musician and director John Banister; Andy Christopher, star of Lubbock Moonlight Musicals’ “Buddy, The Buddy Holly Story”; and Eddy Weir, the late Holly’s nephew.

Although not on the announced program, the trio walked to their cars, collected their guitars and gave an impromptu concert of Holly songs in the Buddy Holly Center’s courtyard.

Fans again applauded, and Shauna Wiseman, a 30-year-old woman with Down syndrome, continually danced both in the audience and in front of the musicians.

Christopher, by the way, pointed out that this year’s final performance of the Holly stage musical will be at today’s opening of the Clovis Music Festival in Clovis, N.M.

As for Christopher, he also can be seen starring in “Godspell” the next three weekends at the Garza Theater in Post.

Already, he has made plans to move to New York City in January and begin auditioning for stage projects there. Three years ago, he planned a career in medicine; the music and theater bugs double-teamed him.

Not surprisingly, fans appeared to be arriving continually at the Buddy Holly Center from all directions on the map, most looking forward to the guided tour of the Buddy Holly Gallery, birthday cake and punch and, of course, more hours of live music.

Hal and Sandy Wilkerson dropped in from Tulia, and Sandy said her husband is the real rock ’n’ roll fan.

“Well, the older rock ’n’ roll,” he said, smiling. Both said they like Buddy Holly music.

Nadine Lealert and Peggy Brando, describing themselves as two widows from Amarillo, said Wednesday marked their first visit to the Buddy Holly Center. Peggy, especially, was excited by an opportunity to have her photograph taken with Buddy’s older brothers, Larry and Travis Holley, one at a time.

The brothers had been sitting on the front row during the video feed from Los Angeles.

“That was pretty disappointing,” said Travis.

Outside, Joe Hays was having his own picture taken with the giant sculpture of Holly’s black eyeglasses.

He and his wife, Sheilda, call Senoia, Ga., home, but they are on a road trip, their intention being to simply explore most of Texas.

“We just saw a sign that said ‘Buddy Holly,’ and we decided to pull over and check it out. Then we found out all these events were happening,” Sheilda said.

Buddy Holly Center curator Jacqueline Bober found 50 to 60 fans inside the Holly Gallery when she prepared to give the annual gallery tour at 3 p.m.

She maintained control, sharing historical facts and fun factoids, and appeared to have a good time in the process.

Those taking the tour received more than one bonus.

Making a special appearance was Echo McGuire Griffith, Buddy’s high school girlfriend. She smiled while revealing she actually dated both Buddy Holly and his best friend, Bob Montgomery, in the beginning.

“I usually went with one to a football game on Friday night, and to the movies with the other on Saturday night,” said Griffith.

Echo’s husband, Ron, revealed Echo still has 35 photographs of her and Buddy together that no one has ever seen.

Rather than market the pictures, she plans to include them in a book she has started to write.

The Tolletts joined Bober when the guided tour reached Holly’s recording sessions in 1957, offering a detailed account of their work with Holly and producer Norman Petty on “That’ll Be the Day.”

More visitors arrived when “Happy Birthday” was sung, cake was served and local musicians entertained during the celebration’s last few hours.

To comment on this story:

william.kerns@lubbockonline.com | 766-8712

leesha.faulkner@lubbockonline.com | 766-8706

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