Tribute show to recreate Buddy Holly’s last show

A group of young musicians from Fort Payne’s Chris Roberts School of Music will perform a tribute to the late Buddy Holly this weekend at the DeKalb Theatre. Tickets for Saturday’s 7 p.m. performance are $10 in advance or $15 at the door. It is sponsored by the school and by Akins Furniture.

Roberts said the concert is a replication of Holly’s February 1959 final concert at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, complete with students impersonating Richie Valens and J.P. Richardson, aka “Big Bopper.” The three artists were killed when the aircraft they traveled in crashed into a frozen cornfield shortly after takeoff.

A narrator and emcee will recount how Holly’s guitarist famously flipped a coin with Valens to decide which one of them would get to ride on the doomed aircraft. Bassist Waylon Jennings gave up his seat to the Big Bopper, who was suffering from the flu and complained that the tour bus was too cold.

“It’s not only an entertaining show, but will provide some informative history as well,” Roberts said.

The accident was famously referred to as “The Day the Music Died” in Don McLean's 1971 song “American Pie” -- a reference to Holly’s hit song “That’ll Be the Day.” Valens and the Big Bopper were stars in their own right, with hits like “La Bamba” and “Chantilly Lace.”

The impetus for Saturday’s tribute show was a repeated request from a supporter of the school who noted the resemblance of the young man in the lead role, Garrett Akins, to Holly, who was born Charles Hardin Holley. Roberts said six of the seven performers in Saturday’s show are students from the Chris Roberts School of Music.

Last year, students from the school performed a tribute to The Beatles to mark the 55th Anniversary of the Fab Four’s arrival to the U.S. For more information, call (256) 996-1547.

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