Built in the early 1950’s by record producer Owen Bradley, the ‘Quonset Hut’ was the original Nashville recording home for Decca Records. Rock ‘n’ roll pioneers, like Buddy Holly, made their first professional recordings in Owen Bradley’s studio.
Here it is…
How to find the ‘Quonset Hut’ on Music Row in Nashville
The Day the Music Died , The Start of a New Career
Robert Thomas Velline (April 30, 1943 – October 24, 2016), known professionally as Bobby Vee.
Bobby Vee’s career began in the midst of tragedy. On February 3, 1959, “The Day the Music Died,” three of the four headline acts in the lineup of the traveling Winter Dance Party—Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper—were killed in the crash of a V-tailed 1947 Beechcraft Bonanza airplane, along with the 21-year-old pilot, Roger Peterson. (Dion DiMucci, the second headliner, had opted not to travel on the plane.) The plane crashed near Clear Lake, Iowa, en route to the next show on the tour itinerary, in Moorhead, Minnesota. Velline, then 15 years old, hastily assembled band of Fargo schoolboys (including his older brother Bill) calling themselves ‘The Shadows’ volunteered for and were given the unenviable job of filling in for Holly and his band at the Moorhead engagement. Their performance there was a success, setting in motion a chain of events that led to Vee’s career as a popular singer.
Buddy Holly and The Crickets arrived in Portland, Oregon to appear live on High Time, a local TV teen dance show, and performed that night at the Paramount Theater along with an all-star cast as part of the Biggest Show of Stars ’57, which included Fats Domino, Everly Brothers, Paul Anka, Chuck Berry, Frankie Lyman, The Drifters.
February 2, 1959
The Winter Dance Party Arrives in Clear Lake, Iowa
On this frozen night in 1959 the Winter Dance Party, featuring headliners Buddy Holly and the Crickets, arrived at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. The show also included Frankie Sardo, Dion and the Belmonts, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, and new teen sensation Ritchie Valens.
By the time the tour bus pulled into Clear Lake, Buddy Holly was frosted by the bitter Mid-West weather, and frustrated by all the breakdowns along the way. To avoid another long cold bus ride after the show, Holly decided to charter a plane to take himself and the Crickets to the next stop in Moorhead, Minnesota.
The Surf Ballroom had not been a scheduled stop on the tour, but show’s promoters, hoping to fill an open date, called Surf Ballroom manager Carroll Anderson and offered him the show.
The photo above is of Buddy Holly performing his last show on the stage of the Surf Ballroom. Also pictured here are Waylon Jennings on bass guitar and Tommy Allsup on rhythm guitar.
Sixty years ago today (Jan. 26, 1956) Buddy Holly recorded his songs for the first time at Decca Records in Nashville Tennessee. The sessions were held in Owen Bradley’s Barn, known as the “Quonset Hut” which is now part of the Sony Building. Performing on the recordings with Buddy were Sonny Curtis on lead guitar and Don Guess on upright bass.
The play list included “Blue Days, Black Nights,” “Rock Around with Ollie Vee,” “Love Me,” “Modern Don Juan,” a cover of “Bo
Diddley,” “Have You Ever Been Lonely,” and many more. Even recorded this day was the first version of “That’ll Be the Day.”
On this day in 1956, Buddy Holly along with Sonny Curtis and Don Guess arrived in Nashville, Tennessee. The next day would be the beginning of Buddy’s short, but highly prolific, professional recording career.
On this day 60 years ago, January 23 1956, a 20-year-old Buddy Holly along with guitarist Sonny Curtis and bass player Don Guess loaded their gear into Buddy’s parent’s Buick (strapping the upright bass to the roof of the car!) and left Lubbock for Nashville hoping they might cut a record and become rock and roll stars.
Sonny Curtis, Buddy Holly, Don Guess. Photo courtesy of Sonny Curtis.