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Geographer maps, describes Buddy Holly's career

Posted by University News Service

Sept. 9, 2011

Poor management and haphazard planning could have contributed to the death of music pioneer Buddy Holly and changed the direction of rock and roll, a geographer from Texas State University-San Marcos suggests in an upcoming research article.

Kevin Romig, assistant professor of geography at Texas State, examines the touring life and career of Holly in an article titled Not Fade Away: Geographic Dimensions of Buddy Holly’s Meteoric Career. The article will appear in the upcoming issue of the Journal of Texas Music History, published by the Center for Texas Music History at Texas State.

Holly, a native of Lubbock, would have turned 75 on Sept. 7 of this year.

The article delves into details about the catastrophic “Winter Dance Party Tour of 1959” when Holly chartered a plane to fly him, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson from Mason City, Iowa, to Fargo, North Dakota, just so they could avoid another long, cold bus ride across the icy Great Plains in early February.  The chartered plane crashed within five minutes of take-off, instantly killing the three musicians along with pilot Roger Peterson. Holly was 22.

“Details about the furious travel itineraries along with the rinky-dink venue types and seat-of-the-pants arrangements made by tour promoters in Holly’s day would frighten the modern day professional musician” said Romig. “In many ways, the poor organization and management of the Winter Dance Party killed Buddy Holly and significantly changed the trajectory of rock and roll into the 1960s.”

 In the article, Romig presents detailed maps depicting the journeys Holly took as a budding musician, along with a narrative highlighting the life of a rock and roll musician in the late 1950s. 

In an 18 month professional career, Buddy Holly appeared in more than 250 live performances, performed on four television shows, traveled throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, and Great Britain, and managed to have eight top 40 hits on the Billboard charts. 

“Buddy Holly’s imprint on the future of rock and roll was tremendous, and it is important for Texans to remember such a local hero and celebrate his amazing but short life,” said Romig.