CNJ Staff Photo: Andy DeLisle
Derek Stone, 11, of Portales, front right, and James LeFebvre, center, get autographs from the LA Party Dolls Saturday at the Clovis Civic Center during the Clovis Music Festival’s “meet the rockers” fanfare.
By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent
Some of those attending the Clovis Music Festival may have been chasing down fond musical memories. Or, perhaps, the major motivation was a chance to make contact with those involved in the late-1950s music scene.
But, as the festival began to wind down on Saturday with tours, meet-and-greets and a final farewell concert, many visitors from far away had found something else — new friends with a common interest.
Take David Holliday and Neil Durranc, for instance. Almost the same age, Holliday, 58, and Durranc, 57, grew up with a love for the music of Buddy Holly.
And they live only around 120 miles from each other. In England. Sometimes tooling around Clovis the last three days in Holliday’s rented red Mustang, the two men and their wives bonded through the music popular during their youth.
“I’ve been a Buddy Holly fan since I was 10 years old in ’57. With the music, something clicked in my brain and it’s been there ever since,” said Holliday, who lives in the lake district of northern England.
“The only reason anybody in England of a certain age, I would guess, would ever have heard of Clovis, New Mexico, is because of Buddy Holly and the Crickets. That’s the way it is,” said Durranc, who resides in Oxford. “Buddy Holly has been an important artist there ever since the ’50s. His popularity has never waned in England. Never. As the decades have gone by, his profile has been raised.”
“For the real fans, like me and Dave, we’ve always admired his music,” Durranc added.
Holliday and Durranc visited Lubbock before making their way to Clovis on Thursday, which was the 70th anniversary of Buddy Holly’s birth. Each man said that the birthdate of Holly factored in the decision to make the long trip.
“I decided a couple of years ago that it was his 70th birthday coming up and decided I wanted to be in Lubbock,” Holliday said. “The Clovis Music Festival was going on, so it was the obvious thing to go to.”
“For a long time, I’ve had the desire to come to Lubbock and Clovis. It’s been in my mind for many years,” Durranc said. “The impetus was Buddy’s 70th birthday. We felt there’d be more fans here to share the experience. It’s much more fun to go around and share it with everybody.”
Plenty of United Kingdom citizens were in Clovis on Saturday as the festival came to a close. One tour bus had about 15 people onboard.
“About 15 Brits, but they’re not all Brits — some are from Australia,” Durranc noted.
The last day included several guided tours of the Norman Petty recording studio, where most of Holly’s hits were recorded. Other No.1 Billboard pop chart hits recorded at the Clovis studio included Buddy Knox’s “Party Doll” and the Fireballs’ “Sugar Shack.”
The Fireballs were scheduled to perform Saturday night at the Clovis Civic Center along with the String-A-Longs (owner of a No. 3 hit, “Wheels,” also recorded at the Petty studio) and other acts.
“It was very, very interesting,” said Holliday of the Seventh Street studio. “The guy (Petty) must have been some sort of genius with the sound that he got out from simple equipment like that.”
Holliday and Durranc said they planned on keeping in contact via e-mail when their visit to Clovis is over.
“I did quite a bit of research on the Internet before I planned this trip. It’s been like a military operation, because I had only 10 days to do it in. So, it’s been flying from one place to the next,” Holliday said. “It’s something I had planned for a lot of years. It’s a long, long trip to come here, but it’s been well worthwhile.”