Clear Lake, Iowa ’59

“Clear Lake Iowa ’59”

BUZZ Newspaper Article (#59 -cL) Feb -Mar 2016

By: RLSchwinden aka: MrZer0
When I was a kid in Sioux City, I was really into music & records, I still am, I once asked my Mom “Why can’t I find any Monkees’ records at any of the stores?” she said “Because they only stock the titles that sell” I asked “How do you know that?” she answered “Because I used to run the “Record Dept.” @ Kresge’s downtown” then in  1986 I started working at “RecordShop” in W. Des Moines, Iowa until they were purchased by “Wherehouse” in 1993, I worked there at Southridge until they filed bankruptcy in 1995 & closed 1/3rd of their chain, I then worked at “Best Buy” on the south-side of Des Moines from 1995 -98, until I left to work for “DiscJockey- Wax Works” at Merle Hay until 2000 when they were purchased by “fye -Trans-World” where I worked in Burnsville until 2005, though down-sizing I was laid-off & worked for “DiscLand” in Bloomington, until I left to open my own MusicShop “Mr.Zero’s” in 2009 &  I have managed to keep it open for the past 7 years, despite all the obstacles  & competition, so see I have literately done one job my whole life retail sales of Records, Cassettes & CDs, & for the past 5 years I have authored this Music Article.

The thing I have found most interesting over the past 7 years is the gross misinformation the internet has created about music history. Every Feb we get a lot of people coming in looking for “Original” Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens & Big Bopper Vinyl Albums. So with this article, I decided to cover the original records of the artists from the “Clear Lake, Iowa Plane Crash” the 1st of many plane crashes that killed Musicians. Here are some of the others who also died in plane crashes: Patsy Cline: 1963 in Tennessee, Otis Redding: 1967 in Wisconsin, Jim Croce: 1973 in Louisiana, Lynyrd: 1977 Skynyrd: Ronnie VanZant,Steve & Cassie Gaines in Mississippi, Ricky Nelson: 1985 in Texas, Stevie Ray Vaughan: 1989 in Wisconsin, John Denver: 1997 in California & Aaliyah: 2001 in the Bahamas


*Buddy Holly: 1936 -1959

He was born Charles Hardin Holley on 7 Sep 1936 in Lubbock, TX. His nickname “Buddy” was given to him at an early age. Buddy learn to play piano at age 11 & about a year later learned to play guitar, influenced by Country & Western Artists from the late 20s to the early 50s. In ’49 Buddy made home recording of Hank Snow’s song “My Two Timing Woman” on “Wire Recorder”  Buddy started performing as a Country & Western Duo in ’52 -53, then in ’54, Buddy started adding R&B into his Country music, thus creating his style of Rockabilly fully developed by ‘55. Buddy opened up for Elvis & Bill Haley’s Comets several times in 1955, which lead to Holly being signed to Decca Records in 1956, & 2 singles were released “Blue Days, Black Nights b/w Love Me” & “Modern Don Juan b/w You Are My One Desire” it was Decca who misspelled “Holley’s” last name on the record labels, therefore changing Buddy’s professional name. In Jan ’57 Holly was dropped from Decca. Then Holly meet producer Norman Petty (27 May 1927 -15 Aug 1984) who was impressed with Holly’s music & recorded some demos for him, & eventually was able to get Holly signed with Brunswick Records in Spring ’57.


As Brunswick was part of Decca Records, the new single “That’ll Be The Day b/w Looking For Someone To Love” released in May ’57 (& went to #1), would be under the band name “The Crickets” as suggested by their drummer Jerry Allison (31 Aug 1939; Hillsboro, TX) which consisted of Joe (Joseph Benson Mauldin, Jr. 8 Jul 1940 – 7 Feb 2015) on Stand-up Bass & Niki Sullivan (23 Jun 1937 – 6 April 2004) on Guitar, while Buddy’s Solo Records would be under his own name on Coral Records. The next single “Peggy Sue b/w Everyday” was released in Sep ’57, & hit #3 on the Billboard Charts, the song was re-named for Allison’s girlfriend, (I remember this was one of my Mom’s favorite songs, & she used to sing it to me, I asked why are you singing that way” (with a sort of hiccup), she answered “Because that’s the way he (Holly) sang it”). The next single “Oh Boy b/w Not Fade Away” was a #10 hit in Oct ’57. His next charting single was “Maybe Baby b/w Tell Me How” & hits #17 on the charts in the Fall ’57. Holly’s 1st “Long Player” album ‘Chirping Crickets’ was released in Nov 1957 on Brunswick, as well as a total of 7 singles was released in the year of 1957. Holly & The Crickets made 5 TV appearances in ’57 & 11 more in ’58.

Holly’s 2nd LP ‘Buddy Holly’ was released in Feb 1958 on Coral Records followed by the #37 hit single “Rave On b/w Take Your Time” in Apr ’58, his 3rd LP ‘That’ll Be The Day’ was released on Decca with Sonny Curtis (9 May 1937; Meadow TX) on guitar, who had played with Holly since 1951 & who wrote many well known songs like the theme to “Mary Tyler Moore Show” Sonny took over lead vocals in ‘The Crickets’ when Holly died. Holly & The Crickets played Minneapolis for the 1st time on 25 Apr 1958 @ the Municipal Theatre. Their single “Think It Over b/w Fool’s Paradise” hit #27 on the charts, was released in May ’58. Holly made a 2nd appearance in Minneapolis on 11 Jul 1958 @ the National Guard Armory, remarkably I can find no set-lists for any concerts he performed, although it’s safe to say they probably played 2 shows a night averaging 20 to 30min a set, which back then equated to about 10 songs. Buddy’s next charting single was the #32 hit “Early In The Morning b/w Now We’re One” was released on 30 Aug 1958, a total of 8 singles were released in 1958.

In Dec ’58 Holly split with ‘The Crickets’ & their Manager- Producer Petty, over unwarranted song writing credits & unpaid royalties. His single “Heartbeat b/w Well Alright” was released on 24 Jan 1959 & hit # 82 on the charts, Holly assembles a new band with Tommy Allsup (24 Nov 1931; Owasso, OK) on Guitar, Waylon Jennings (Waylon Arnold Jennings: 15 Jun 1937 Littlefield,TX -13 Feb 2002) on Bass & Carl Bunch (24 Nov 1939; Big Springs, TX – March 26, 2011) on Drums to embark on the “Winter Dance Tour” stopping in St. Paul on 28 Jan 1959 @ the Promenade Ballroom, & only 5 days later was killed in the now famous plane crash just 132 miles south of MPLS. Holly was quite prolific in his short recording career of; Jan ’56 – Dec ’58 (unlike most other artists of the day) he released 17 Singles (32 songs) & 3 LPs before he died. Here’s some Buddy trivia for you The Beatles recorded a very loyal cover of  “Words Of Love” in 1964, Don Mclean: recorded “American Pie” in 1971 which was his telling of the day he found out about the plane crash, the song went #1 in Jan ’72. Micky Dolenz of The Monkees recorded a single “Buddy Holly Tribute” in 1974 on Romar Records, as the  50s revival was in full swing by then. In 1975 Paul McCartney bought publishing to Holly’s songs as part of MPL Communications & then in 1978 “The Buddy Holly Story” biopic film was released starring Gary Busey. I 1st saw ‘The Crickets’ in the Summer of ’93, a 2nd time in W. Des Moines, When I spoke to Mauldin, Allison & Curtis in 2005, Mauldin: told me “Well, that movie was more of Gary’s (Busey) version of the Buddy story, Buddy wasn’t confrontational like that movie depicted him to be” Allison: “It was probably as close as it was going to get, better than not being made at all, they didn’t use my real name because I had already sold the rights to someone else, before that movie was made”  


Ritchie Valens: 1941 -1959


He was born Richard Steven Valenzuela: 13 May 1941 in Pociama,CA. (3 Feb 1959) a Mexican- American, a son to migrant workers, who spoke no real Spanish. At the age of 5, though he was left handed learned to play Guitar right handed, he also learned to play Trumpet & Drums. Ritchie’s 1st band was ‘The Silhouettes’ he was hired 1st as Guitarist, Valens being from a meager background played a low-end Harmony H44 Stratatone originally a Bronze finish  he had it painted (probably because of wear) Chrysler forest green in shop at school.  Later he took over Lead Vocals in the band, they 1st performed live in Oct’ 57. As he was gaining a reputation, it was suggested to Bob Keane (Robert Verrill Kuhn: 5 Jan 1922 Manhattan Beach, CA. – 28 Nov 2009) that he should check out the new “Little Richard”. Keane saw Valens perform at a Sat. Matinee, impressed with what he heard, Keane convinced Valens to come down to his ‘Gold Star Studios’ & cut some Demos, Keane became Valens Record Producer & Manager & signed Ritchie to “Del-Fi Records” in May ’58, it was Keane who changed Valens name to be less ethnic, for a broader appeal.

Valens 1st 45 Single “Come On Let’s Go b/w Framed” a #42 hit on the charts, was recorded & released in Jul ’58 featuring a backing band of the legendary session people Carol Kaye, Earl Palmer & René Hall. Valens 1st TV appearance was on “American Bandstand” 6 Oct 1958 & his 2nd single “Donna b/w La Bamba” #2 & #22 charting hits; respectively was released on 18 Oct 1958. Donna was Valens’ real life girlfriend Donna Ludwig. In the Fall of ’58 Valens quit school to make music full time. Valens 2nd TV appearance was on “Saturday Night Beechnut Show” on 28 Dec 1958. There is a 30 second “Home Movie” in 8mm color, taken in his Mother’s home in L.A. at a party playing a Tobacco Stratocaster  & singing wearing a blue satin frilly shirt & horsing around with his brother Robert, from about this same time period, it really gives you a sense of what Ritchie looked & moved like. Sometime in late’58 or early ’59 Ritchie filmed a scene in the movie “Go Johnny Go” for the song “Ooh My Head” released in Jun 1959..

Valens released a 3rd 45 single under the name “Arvee Allens” titled “Fast Freight  b/w Big Baby Blues” on Del-Fi #4111, but this was re-issued under Valens’ name after his death, Actually the real “Star” of the 3 who died in the plane crash; at this time was Valens who was currently on the top of the charts. Valens won a coin toss over Allsup on the morning of the 3rd that resulted in his death. In summation, Valens released 3 singles before he died, his 1st LP was released a month after his death. Here’s some Valens Trivia; Led Zeppelin’s 1975 song “Boogie With Stu” is based on “Ooh My Head” a lawsuit was filed (1 of many) & Zeppelin lost, & had to give credit to Valens. A Biopic film “La Bamba” was released in Jul 1987, which was fairly accurate as it had Valens Family involvement (& Local Hero Brian Setzer). I spoke to Valens older brother Bob in 2008 about the film & the scene where Ritchie tells Bob he doesn’t want to use him on drums. Brother Bob Morales: “Yes I was a great artist like the film depicted I was a good musician too, it’s just Ritchie didn’t want to play with me, because I was his older brother” at the time I saw the film with my girlfriend at that time, this was the impression she walked away with Michele: “Can you believe he (Valens) was afraid of flying & that’s the way he died”


Big Bopper: 1930 -1959


He was born Jiles Perry “J. P.” Richardson, Jr. on 24 Oct 1930 in Sabine Pass, TX. & was primarily known as a Disc Jockey on Station KTRM in Beaumont, TX. & a Novelty Song Writer. He served 2 years in the US Army, before becoming a full-time DJ. J.P. at a function he hosted, had seen some collage kids doing a new dance, they called “The Bop” & he decided, because of his size, to go under the moniker “The Big Bopper”, prior to his very short recording career, he broke the “Continuous On-Air Broadcasting” record, by broadcasting live for 5 days & 2 hours & 8min. in May ’57. While Richardson was a musician, he mainly wrote songs for other people, some 18 in total, his most famous being “White Lightning” a #1 hit in Feb ’59, “Running Bear” (which he sang back-up on the record) also a #1 hit in Jun ’59, & “Purple People Eater Meets The Witch Doctor” released in Jun ’58.

Richardson himself was  signed to Mercury Records in early ’58, he only recorded & released 4 Single 45s, the 1st being “Beggar To A King b/w Crazy Blues” on the “D Records” label. Big Bopper’s 2nd record is of course what he is most famous for “Chantilly Lace b/w Purple People Eater Meets The Witch Doctor” a #6 hit in Summer ’58 (interesting note; Jane Mansfield cut a response record to this titled “That Makes It”) Richardson is given the credit for creating the 1st “Music Video”, filming himself for a potential TV appearance. His 3rd single release

“Big Bopper’s Wedding b/w Little Red Riding Hood” Mercury in the Fall of ’58. Richardson made 2 TV appearances on the “Dick Clark Show” Sep & Nov ’58, whereas upon his 4th single “Walking Through My Dreams b/w Someone Watching Over You” was released in the Winter of ’58, just before the “Winter Dance Party”, as far as I can tell this was Big Bopper’s only tour, which he had come down with the flu & was able to secure a seat on the Beechcraft Bonanza, which tragically crashed only a few minutes after take-off. In his life-time he released 4 singles, his 1st & only LP (Long Player) was released a month after he died.

You see fans, back in the olden days, Artist released 45 Singles, & once you had 2 or 3 big hits their Record Label would release an Album ….

Stay tuned for next month’s installment … Also

You can catch my Band “KISSin Time” @ The Pickled Loon – Nest in St. Cloud on Sat 26 Mar 2016

Rock N Roll '59

Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly, Big Bopper

Posted in Articles Tagged with: , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.