WEIRDLAND: R.I.P. Tommy Allsup, Buddy Holly's final tour survivor

Thursday, January 12, 2017

R.I.P. Tommy Allsup, Buddy Holly's final tour survivor

Guitarist Tommy Allsup lost a coin toss to teenage star Ritchie Valens, who died with Holly in the subsequent air crash. Allsup, who went on to become a successful producer, died yesterday, aged 85. Holly initially offered members of his touring band, including Allsup, a spot on the four-seater aircraft he chartered after a Winter Dance Party tour across the Midwest, according to A-J Media archives. At one in the morning on February 3, 1959, Buddy Holly and his tour band stood around a small plane at Clear Lake, Iowa, trying to decide who would fly to the next venue and who would have to take the rattly, cold bus. Bob Hale, a disc jockey at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, told reporters he flipped the coin that decided whether Allsup or Valens would have the last seat. He lost the coin flip and was asked decades later by music historian Bill Griggs what happened to the coin. Allsup said that he kept it. “It saved my life,” Allsup told Griggs. Source:

Buddy Holly drove to Odessa where he recruited old friend Tommy Allsup to play guitar and drummer Carl Bunch for his touring band. Through his association with session guitarist Tommy Allsup, Buddy Holly was becoming interested in jazz. Larry Holley drove his brother and Maria Elena to the Lubbock airport where they caught a flight home to New York City. A bitter winter wind swept across northwest Texas as Carl Bunch’s mother drove her son and Tommy Allsup from Odessa to Lubbock, where they picked up Jennings on the way to the airport at Amarillo to catch a flight to New York City. The band spent several days practicing before leaving for the start of the tour in Chicago.  At the same time, Allsup was teaching Jennings how to play the bass, which he had never played before. “I very quickly memorized everything Buddy did,” Jennings says. “I didn’t learn to play the bass, I memorized the notes.” Holly pushed hard to make the new group sound like the old Crickets. “Buddy and Maria were having some difficulties,” Bunch indicates that Maria Holly precipitated most of the disputes by telling Holly how to handle his life and career. Allsup didn’t feel the same tension sensed by Bunch. “Buddy and Maria seemed to get along pretty good. She was pretty hot-tempered. I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary.” As the musicians ate breakfast in Holly’s apartment the morning they were to leave for Chicago, Holly and his wife each told of dreams of airplanes they had the night before. “Buddy said something about a plane crashing,” Allsup says. “I didn’t even think about it for years. I don’t know if it was a premonition or if he had a dream.” Bunch is more certain. “Buddy had a premonition about his death.” —"The Day the Music Died: The Last Tour of Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens" (1997) by Larry Lehmer

No comments :