Fire in the Water, Earth in the Air: Legends
of West Texas Music
by Christopher Oglesby
Published by the University
of Texas Press:
"As a whole, the interviews create
a portrait not only of Lubbock's musicians and artists, but also
of the musical community that has sustained them, including venues
such as the legendary Cotton Club and the original Stubb's Barbecue.
This kaleidoscopic portrait of the West Texas music scene gets
to the heart of what it takes to create art in an isolated, often
inhospitable environment. As Oglesby says, "Necessity is
the mother of creation. Lubbock needed beauty, poetry, humor,
and it needed to get up and shake its communal ass a bit or go
mad from loneliness and boredom; so Lubbock created the amazing
likes of Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock, Terry Allen, and
"Indeed, Oglesby's introduction of more
than two dozen musicians who called Lubbock home should be required
reading not only for music fans, but for Lubbock residents and
anyone thinking about moving here. On these pages, music becomes
a part of Lubbock's living history."
- William Kerns, Lubbock Avalanche Journal
Country Style was an entertainment column
written by Russ Parsons for the Lubbock Avalanche Journal in
the 1980s, a fertile time in Lubbock music history. He has graciously
shared many of his articles with us at www.virtualubbock.com
for our readers' enjoyment.
Russ Parsons currently is the food editor for the Los Angeles
LUBBOCK AVALANCHE JOURNAL
(posted on www.virtualubbock.com by
permission of author)
Sunday Morning, p. 10-E - October 198?
When good things happen, they seem to come in clusters. Just
when excitement is running high in Austin about his upcoming
album, word has reached us that The Joe Ely Band will open for Linda Ronstadt
on her upcoming western tour.
Joe had run on to Miss Ronstadt before, when she had gone to
see him open for The Clash in Los Angeles. He saw her again not
too long ago,
"I saw her when we came back from Belgium. She was at a
George Jones gig in New York City," he reported. "She
said let's get together soon, but I thought she was still involved
in the play she was doing. I didn't think it would be this soon."
But it was, and Ely and his gang are booked as the opening acts
for 10 dates on her upcoming tour, beginning
Stops on the journey will be Ames, Iowa; Lincoln, Neb. Laramie,
Wyo.: Salt Lake City, Utah; Denver, Colo.; Albuquerque, N.M.
(on Halloween night); Las Cruces, N.M.; Tucson, Ariz.; and Phoenix,
Ariz. For those of you who can't navigate off the Caprock, Albuquerque
will be the closest the band comes to Lubbock.
While it is undoubtedly a huge break for Ely, there are some
problems. First, the album isn't ready yet. Though he says he
hopes to have it recorded by the time the group leaves Austin
(probably Tuesday), that might not be possible. That means the
band would have to record, go on tour and then come back to Austin
to finish the mixing.
Even worse, lead guitar player Jesse Taylor and steel man Lloyd Moines are already committed to
Allen on tour, which overlaps the Ronstadt gig. Lloyd
will have to cut out after the Denver job and Jesse might have
to leave as early as the Albuquerque date that immediately follows.
It's hard to imagine the Ely band without those two.
* * * * * * *
We all make mistakes, right? Like most everybody else I've
talked to, I was under the impression that Buddy Holly's
family and his producer, Norman Petty, have had (at the
least) bad feelings concerning the tatter's financial arrangements
with Holly. Wrongo.
The error was brought to my attention by none other than Buddy's
mom, who was anxious to set the record straight. She wrote me
a letter concerning the matter and, in the interest of getting
it all straightened out, I'll reprint it here:
"I was not aware until just recently when I read an article
in the Avalanche-Journal. that anyone thought there has ever
been any differences or disagreements between Norman Petty and
the Holley family. I was quite surprised when I read this...
"We have never been embroiled in any disputes, legal or
otherwise, with Norman Petty. To the contrary, we are close friends
with him and have been ever since Buddy first met and knew him.
Since shortly after Buddy's death we have been associated with
Norman in the music publishing business and he has helped and
advised us in many ways.
'As Joey Allen (the subject of the story in which the
reference was made) said, we too know Norman Petty to be a very
nice person and a Christian. We have had many pleasant and happy
times with him and Vi, his wife.
''Also, Buddy never had any legal disputes or differences with
Norman and he had the utmost confidence and respect for him and
his opinions There has never been any trouble or question about
any so-called 'deals' made between Norman and Buddy. I do not
know where false rumors like this get started and I am not blaming
anyone, but I want folks to know they are untrue,
"When Buddy decided to branch out on his own it was not
because of a quarrel or falling out. Buddy had married and felt
that his popularity as a singer was about over and he planned
to go into other channels of the music business...And New York
was the place to go.
"Another thing which needs to be said is that Norman Petty
helped Buddy and The Crickets with the writing of most
of their songs...I think this fact has been in question at times.
I want to wish Joey Allen the best of luck with his new
start. I'm sure he will agree that the music business is not
an easy one to follow and he will need a lot of luck on the way.
I remember the hard knocks Buddy had and how he almost gave up
"Joey has gone to the right place to get help because Norman
can do it for him if it can be done and if he follows his advice.
"This is not meant to 'build up' or 'put down' anyone but
just to set the record straight.''
Now that the record is straight, there are a couple of interesting
points in the letter. First, the fact that Holly thought his
career was just about over.
"I remember he told me 'Whatever I do, I've got to do it
in two years."' Mrs. Holley said in a later phone conversation,
"You know, at that time all the pop singers had about two
years of popularity and then they'd fade into oblivion.
"Buddy really thought his singing career was just about
over. I don't think we ever told anybody about that, but of course
we knew all the inside information on that.
"Buddy was going into other avenues of the music business.
He was going into publishing and producing and he had his own
label. That's why he moved to New York, because he felt like
he could get more done there.
"But he told me, 'I'm moving to New York, but my home is
still here in Lubbock.' In fact, he was building a home here
at that time. It was almost done except for the carpentry. Lubbock
was his home."
Over the phone, Mrs. Holley admitted that the statement in my
article was not exactly the first time she'd heard those allegations.
Indeed, a recent PBS television special titled "Not Fade
Away" went so far as to say Mrs. Holley refused to answer
certain of their questions because of an ongoing legal action.
"There's been a lot of talk, presumably among the fans,
both in England and in the United States, that Norman and Buddy
had a falling out," she said. "We knew that wasn't
so. We knew the inside story- Possibly The Crickets seemed to
indicate that they had had a falling out too - Norman and Buddy."
When the fact that "That'll Be the Day" was first released
listing only Buddy and The Crickets as writers, then re-released
on another label with Petty's name added, Mrs. Holley said, "I
think a lot of the times he (Petty) called himself a co-writer.
He made an agreement with the boys. About that song, I remember
Norman went back to Nashville and got it. Buddy had recorded
it in Nashville and it got pigeon-holed. The song belonged to
Jim Denny in Nashville. Buddy gave it to him. He said 'Okay,
if that song's no good, I'll give it to you.'
"Well when it started going good for Norman and Buddy, they
went back to Nashville and made a deal with Jim Denny to have
'That'll Be The Day' back. In exchange, Buddy wrote two other
songs for him."
More articles by Russ Parsons
Butch Hancock - Jimmie
Gilmore - David
Halley - Larry
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