My overall feeling of the Buddy Holly Center was one of being creeped out. It’s a small museum filled mostly with relics of Buddy Holly’s childhood. There are baby pictures, school pictures, yearbooks, and postcards. A number of crude school art projects, such as the hand tooled leather guitar strap with a large BH carved on the back, filled another case. Then there is Buddy Holly’s childhood bedroom, just as he had left it. It was a snapshot of the 1950s and it was a little creepy.
Among the cool items were mint condition copies of Buddy Holly’s early LPs and singles. Included in the collection were a number of autographs and many promotional photos that I don’t recall having seen before. There were also a couple of guitars including a Fender Stratocaster Buddy Holly used in the Studio. There was a lot of history and large blocks of text through the one room Gallery detailing every event of Buddy Holly’s short life.
Which brings us back to the creep out factor again. The Buddy Holly Center had the black horn rimmed glasses that Buddy Holly was wearing when he died. They had Buddy Holly’s burned up id cards in another case that described the details of the fatal plane crash. Yes, I know his story didn’t have a happy ending, but these odd little mementos seem a tad macabre.
There were a couple of other odd items in the exibit-a pair of Elton John’s oversized glasses and a guitar played by someone I never heard of, but who may have been one of the Crickets or just some body else riding on the dead rock star’s coat tails.
There was a short film where Waylon Jennings was asked what Buddy Holly would have done if he had lived. Waylon said that he though Buddy Holly would have had his own label as he really liked the production side of music.
I’m not so sure that Buddy Holly had not already hit his stride when he died. After all, what happened to Bill Haley, Little Richard, Eddie Cochran, and Jerry Lee Lewis? As far as superstars of the time go, look at what happened to Elvis. Would Buddy Holly have been able to overcome the 1960s? Would he have made an album like Pet Sounds or Sargent Pepper’s Lonely Heart Clubs Band? It’s hard to image it. But maybe he would a better Phil Spector than Phil Spector if he had started his own label. But then again, The Beatles didn’t do so great with their own label.
And that’s really what the Buddy Holly museum is about-this is what we are left with, a tragically short rock and roll career and a lot of what-ifs.
One last bit of creepiness. The gift shop is filled with the usual gift shop stuff. T-shirts, mugs, little statues, pictures and recordings of Buddy Holly. But it still reminded me of Homer selling Mozart’s death mask minutes after Mozart had died. I bought a guitar pick with Buddy Holly’s name on it, even though I don’t play the guitar. I grew up listening to Buddy Holly, but I don’t go out of my way to hear his songs now. He was just a bit ahead of my time. But it is still a sad story.
One more minor gripe. They didn’t want you to take photos or make videos-which is pretty common in museums of all sorts. This is fine, it was a small museum and there where only a handful of things I would have taken a photo of anyway. But every exhibit had a plaque which said something like No Photography or Video and You are Being Monitored by video survalence to insure that there is no photography or video. I was tempted to take a picture of the sign. I understand this policy in an art museum-they sell posters of the works of art in the gift shop, but history museums have always baffled me on this point.
The Buddy Holly Center in Lubbock was worth a visit, but much of the infomation about Buddy Holly can be found on thier website. I was surprised that there was no link to an online shop filled with Buddy Holly stuff, I might want another guitar pick one of these days.