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KC Blog Update 07/26/19: Buddy Holly

written by REO Speedwagon

When the tour bus pulled up to the historic Surf Ballroom & Museum in Clear Lake, Iowa earlier this week, and I saw “REO Speedwagon…Sold Out” on the marquee, I couldn’t help but imagine Buddy Holly’s name in lights up there on the night of his final performance. The airplane carrying Buddy, plus his tour mates Richie Valens and the Big Bopper, would crash in a cornfield a few miles from this storied venue the night after that legendary show. We had visited the memorial which marks the crash site before, and paid our respects.

Bruce and I were messing around with acoustic guitars in the dressing room, and found ourselves jamming on Holly’s “Peggy Sue”. We were stumped as to the chord change in the B-section, until Bruce discovered it goes from C to G#major. That is an unexpected chord change for a pop song, and more befitting heavy metal. Buddy Holly was definitely ahead of his time!

We know the Beatles were influenced by Buddy’s music. I recently read Graham Nash’s autobiography, where he says the name of his first band was inspired by Buddy Holly, as well: The Hollies!

Anyway, I found myself in the same spot on stage where Buddy Holly stood on that fateful night, holding my 1952 Fender Telecaster guitar, similar to the one Holly played and wearing my black-rimmed, Buddy Holly glasses. I surprised myself, not to mention the audience, and the band for that matter, with an impromptu performance of “Peggy Sue”. At one point, I stopped playing and let the crowd take over, and they sang it loud. It was an awesome moment. We feel so fortunate to be in a position to honor one of rock and roll’s great pioneers, in our little way.

Afterward, back in the dressing room we all agreed it had been a very special show, in this venerable venue. We will definitely be back…much love, kc