Born as Charles Hardin Holley in the dusty Texas Panhandle city of Lubbock in 1936, Buddy Holly went on to become a legend for early rock-n-roll music. His life tragically cut short, Buddy Holly is celebrated as Lubbock’s most famous contribution to American popular culture. Appropriately, Lubbock is home to several tourist sites honoring his brief but influential music career.
1. The first stop in Lubbock for Buddy Holly fans (or anyone interested in the history of rock music) should be the Buddy Holly Center. With a permanent exhibit on the early icon, the center is a great place for an overview on a short but prolific career. Walking the visitor through Buddy’s early life as a Lubbock boy to his hometown debut as the opening act for Elvis Presley in 1955, the exhibit provides a foundation for its popular displays on Buddy Holly’s most famous years, 1956-1959.
For big fans, the Buddy Holly Center is the chance to see all kinds of star memorabilia. Buddy’s famous thick-rimmed glasses, recovered from the site of his plane crash, are prominently displayed. His now-restored Fender Stratocaster guitar is also a hallmark of the exhibit. The center houses plentiful other items, including clothing, photos, and a guitar strap handcrafted by Buddy Holly himself. Visitors can also see what music this rock-n-roll pioneer used for inspiration, as his personal record collection is also on display. Lastly, the exhibit contains an extensive set of letters from fans and record executives, as well as letters written by Buddy.
With its tasteful, well-arranged displays, this permanent exhibit is a great way to see how a Lubbock boy left a worldwide legacy. Even the Beatles were inspired by Buddy Holly during a show they attended in Britain. If you’re the type to pick up memorabilia, the shop in the Buddy Holly Center will make sure you are outfitted with all kinds of gear and knicknacks depicting the visually memorable music icon.
The Buddy Holly Center is located at 1801 Avenue G in Lubbock, Texas. Admission to the exhibit is only $5. For more information, call 806-767-2686 or visit the website: www.buddyhollycenter.org.
2. Honoring the many West Texans who crafted successful entertainment careers, The Buddy Holly Statue and Walk of Fame is an additional attraction on Avenue Q at 8th Street. Anchored by a large bronze statue of Buddy Holly in an animated pose with his guitar, this tourist stop is also the spot of an annual festival held in September to honor the Lubbock native and celebrate West Texas culture.
3. KDAV Radio, a local Lubbock station, provided Buddy Holly with his first on-air exposure. He became a weekly act on a primarily “country” station, and the rest is history. Enthusiasts can swing by the station, since renamed, at 6602 Martin Luther King Boulevard in Lubbock.
4. Although some people may find it morbid, true devotees of any celebrity who has passed on usually want to see the star’s gravesite. The City of Lubbock Cemetery on 34th Street is the site of Buddy Holly’s headstone. It is interesting to note that his real last name is Holley with an “e.” Buddy’s professional last name was Holly without the “e,” but that was due to a record company oversight on an initial contract. The grave marker reflects the real last name. Visitors have been known to place items at the gravesite, most notably guitar picks.
Whether Lubbock is your destination or just a stop along a West Texas trip, these Buddy Holly attractions will provide you with a piece of musical Americana.