Monday, January 29, 2018

The Buddy Holly Winter Dance Party Tour Through Duluth: 59 Years Ago...

The original poster advertising the event
January 31 marks the 59th anniversary of three days before "the day the music died" when Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens died in a plane crash in Iowa. Three days prior to their death–January 31, 1959–these pop stars of the fifties performed at the Duluth Armory in a memorable appearance from my youth. A small private plane carrying these performers crashed following their final performance in Clear Lake Iowa, claiming their lives. The plane was heading to Fargo, North Dakota. As Don McLean wrote in his classic music parable, American Pie, the plane crash resulted in "the day the music died."

I, Bob Dylan and other area youths packed the Duluth Armory on January 31, 1959 to take in the performances of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “Big Bopper” Richardson, three of Rock and Roll’s most promising musicians of that era. “The Winter Dance Party Tour” began on January 23, 1959 with performances scheduled for 24 cities. The Duluth appearance took place three days before the tour tragically ended.

My friend, Lew Latto, was the producer and MC of the Armory show that also included Dion and the Belmonts. Lew was a precocious teen who became a popular disc jockey as a youth and continued on with a successful career in radio until his death in 2011.

Ed Newman, blogger on Ennyman's Territory, interviewed me about that evening.  Read it HERE.

This year the Historic Duluth Armory is again paying tribute to the Winter Dance Party. Tickets may be purchased HERE. For more about the revitalization of the Historic Duluth Armory, follow that link.

You can find more photos and accounts of the original Duluth Dance Party Tour on the News Tribune Attic on January 31, 2014.

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