Surf Ballroom Designated Rock-n-Roll Landmark, In Ceremony Today

By Betsy Thorpe

This afternoon in a ceremony in Clear Lake Iowa the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame dedicated the Surf Ballroom as a historic rock and roll site. The Surf Ballroom, was the venue where hours before their untimely deaths in a tragic plane crash, Ritchie Valens, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson and Buddy Holly performed their final concert while on tour with the Winter Dance Party. A plaque designating the Surf Ballroom as a historic rock and roll landmark will remain on permanent display in the Surf Ballroom Museum lobby. Today’s dedication marked the ninth rock and roll historic site designation by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Landmark Series. Other landmark locations include the Whisky-a-Go-Go in Los Angeles, King Records in Cincinnati, a well known label started in the 40s, and The Crossroads in Clarksdale, Mississippi. The other five sites are located in the Cleveland area and include Brooklyn High School, where Elvis played his first concert north of the Mason-Dixon line; Leo’s Casino, a venue once popular with Mo-Town artists, the Corner Tavern, home to some of the most popular jazz and rhythm and blues acts of the 50’s and 60’s, WJW Radio Station where deejay Alan Freed coined the phrase rock and roll and WEWS TV, home of The Upbeat Show, a syndicated musical variety show.

Today’s ceremony launched “50 Winters Later” a six day event hosted by the Rock and Roll Fame in commemoration of the tragic event that occurred in Clear Lake Iowa a half a century ago. The event will include symposiums offering panel discussions by Maria Elena Holly, “Big Bopper Jr”, Wanda Jackson and attendees of the 1958 concert. “The Real Buddy Holly Story”, a documentary produced by Paul Mc Cartney will be shown and Tom Fontaine’s Rock and Roll Investments will present a special tribute collection exhibit featuring personal items, contracts, lyrics, and autographs belonging to Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and “The Big Bopper Richardson.

The final eventThe 50 Winters Later Commemorative Concert on February 2, will include performances by, Joe Ely, Wanda Jackson, Los Lobos, Bobby Vee and The Crickets. The concert will soon be broadcast on PBS.

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