Tommy Allsup, Guitarist for Buddy Holly and Other Hitmakers

“It’s So Easy” LIVE–Watch on YouTube

I’ve been to the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, IA, the club where Buddy Holly performed his last concert before his tragic death in an airplane crash. As a member of Holly’s band The Crickets, Tommy Allsup was at that performance, too, and would have perished as well had he not “lost” a coin toss with Richie Valens to see who would get the last seat on the plane.

surf-ballroom

(Friend Brian outside the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, IA.)

Allsup joined The Crickets after a few original members decided they weren’t up to moving to New York with Holly, opting to stay home in Texas. Allsup shows up in time to make it on a few key tracks, “It’s So Easy” being a notable one.

“It’s So Easy” on Spotify

Allsup’s a big of a “Zelig”-type figure, showing up on a number of classic tracks by artists in pop and country.

The Everly Brothers “Cathy’s Clown” on Spotify

Charlie Rich “Behind Closed Doors” on Spotify

Kenny Rogers “The Gambler” on Spotify

Zagar & Evans “In The Year 2525” on Spotify

Allsup (November 24, 1931-January 11, 2017) played in the rockabilly and western swing styles. Out of high school, he was recruited by Jimmie Lee Wills, Bob Wills’ brother, to play at Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa. It was kind of a training ground for Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys.

Bonnie Lou, Country Yodeler and Rockabilly Singer

“Tennessee Wig Walk,” 1953

Bonnie Lou (aka Sally Carson, Mary Kath) learned to yodel from her Swiss grandmother while growing up on an Illinois farm. She took up guitar at age 11 and by the time she was a teenager was appearing on country radio in Peoria.

“Lonesome Day” with Buster and Bonnie Lou

Bonnie Lou (October 27, 1924-December 8, 2015) migrated to Kansas City and then to Cincinnati, where she was a fixture for many years on the nationally syndicated “Midwestern Hayride” show and on the locally loved “Paul Dixon Show.”

Interview with Bonnie Lou

While busy with her local TV career, she passed on an RCA recording offer, which limited her reach. She did record for the King label and her “Tennessee Wig Walk” charted at #6 in the US and #4 in the UK. One of the first female rock-and-roll singers and among the first to cross over from country, Bonnie Lou was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.