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Buddy Holly Center gains motorcycle from rock, country legends

A 1958 Ariel Cyclone motorcycle owned by both Buddy Holly and Waylon Jennings sits during a news conference Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014. The motorcycle will be on display at the Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock. (Zach Long / A-J Media)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waylon Jennings was stunned speechless to receive Buddy Holly’s former motorcycle as a 42nd birthday gift, the country music outlaw’s widow said Thursday morning.

During a presentation with the bike at the Buddy Holly Center, singer Jessi Colter described the gratitude her husband felt toward the Crickets band members for the gift in 1979. Lubbock native Holly purchased the bike in May 1958 at Ray Miller’s Triumph Motorcycle Sales in Dallas, then died in an infamous plane crash about nine months later.

Jennings would never forget his close friend and rock ’n’ roll inspiration, Colter said.

“This motorcycle so represented a time to Waylon when he was most hurt by life’s circumstances,” she said.

The bike — a limited-edition 1958 Ariel Cyclone model — is now on long-term loan at the museum that bears Holly’s name. Its staff share the appreciation the “Highwayman” singer and Littlefield native felt 35 years ago.

“This is a dream for us. We’re thrilled,” said Brooke Witcher, managing director.

Colter, who lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, said she rejected “a million offers” for the motorcyle before she finally released it to George McMahan at a “Remembering Waylon” auction last month. The Lubbockite’s bid wasn’t the highest she was ever offered, she said, but his intention for its use was among the most admirable.

McMahan said he’s happy to see the bike in and near the rock and country stars’ hometowns.

“It is a very iconic piece of history,” he said. “We’re all so proud to have this bike back on their home turf.”

The bike will be on display to the public beginning Nov. 18.

Arlan Ettinger, president of Guernsey’s Auctioneers & Brokers in New York City, said as a longtime Buddy Holly fan, he was honored to help bring the motorcycle to the museum. When he befriended Colter and learned about the bike, he could only describe it with a term collectors use for an item’s history.

“It had the best provenance,” he said. “When I heard about this motorcycle, I thought it was as good as it got.”

Its odometer reads low mileage and its exterior contains hardly a scratch, he said.

“It was in beautiful condition,” he said. “This would be a dream to any collector.”

 

josephine.musico@lubbockonline.com

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