My Private Tour Of Rock n’ Roll History
I had a neat experience and thought I’d share some photos and a blast to the past. Sorry for the long set up…
Norman Petty was a musician and record producer who is best known for his association with Buddy Holly and the Crickets. He recorded in his studio in his hometown of Clovis, New Mexico. After his High School graduation in 1945 he was drafted into the United States Air Force, returned and married his high school sweetheart Violet Ann Brady in 1948. The couple lived briefly in Dallas, Texas, where Petty worked as a part time engineer at a recording studio. Eventually moving back to their hometown of Clovis.
Petty and his wife, Vi, founded the Norman Petty Trio with guitarist Jack Vaughn. Due to the local success of their independent debut release of “Mood Indigo”, they landed a recording contract with RCA Records and sold half a million copies of the recording.
Despite the success of his own records, Petty began construction of his Clovis studio in late 1954. The new studio was state of the art, his estimated spending at about $100,000. With the success of “Almost Paradise” it was completed to its current state in mid 1957. In his original 7th Street studio, aside from songs for his own musical group he also produced early singles (several which were hits) for Texas musicians Roy Orbison, Buddy Knox, Waylon Jennings, Charlie “Sugartime” Phillips, Sonny West, Carolyn Hester and Terry Noland. He also produced all of Buddy Holly’s recordings that can be classified as rockabilly. Also, the hits “Sugar Shack” and “Bottle of Wine” by Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs and “Wheels” by the String-A-Longs were recorded at Petty’s studio in the early 1960s.
Petty died in Lubbock, Texas, in August 1984, of leukemia. Later in 1984 he was posthumously named Clovis Citizen of the Year.
In 2017 I took a position in Clovis, New Mexico overseeing a group of radio stations. The town was very proud of their Rock n’ Roll heritage and continue to hold annual events based off it’s history.
An opportunity came to me with a private tour of the recording studio and the apartment where Buddy Holly stayed as he and his band mates recorded some of their biggest hits. Everything was virtually left the same as it was years ago. Even the instruments used on the album were still in their place. Tours are available with a 2 week notice by contacting The Norman and Vi Petty Rock & Roll Museum
Below are some photos I took while cruising the studios while chatting with Kenneth Broad, friend and band mate to Norman Petty, who had some great stories to share about the old days of Rock n’ Roll.