Thanks to a man named Norman Petty the small eastern New Mexico town has a big piece of American music history. It is here that Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison and others first recorded their music.
When I was planning out the road trip I discovered this, and made plans to stop by the ‘studio’. When the navigation system said we arrived it was in front of a newer building that was the Chamber of Commerce, as well as a museum. Upon entry I asked about the studio, the person at the desk said that is across town – and rarely open. Disappointed, we checked out the museum.
The museum was in the basement. After watching a video about Norman and Vi Petty, we toured their exhibits. They have a number of nice displays.
After leaving I was able to google and find the actual studio address. It was located across town, just a couple of miles away.
When we arrived I noticed the gate to the compound was open. When I walked in I tried a door to a building and to my surprise it too was unlocked. There were four people standing in the lobby and when I asked if I could take some photos outside they said yes, but then said they were starting a studio tour – would we like to see it!
Our first stop and the room that the recording engineer worked the soundboard.
Our tour was lead by a man named Dave Bigham. Our good fortunate hit the jackpot here, as Dave was one of Buddy Holly’s backup singers back in the 1950s.
Dave was a fantastic guide – he was very knowledgeable, adding tons of background to each of the songs. When he started to sing his backup parts along with the song he was playing I got goose bumps!
While the mixing board was updated in the 1970s, most of the other equipment is from the 1950s when Buddy and others recorded here.
In the back of the building is an apartment where the musicians would crash when recording here. The story was told that they tended to record overnight, and sleep through the day.
The studio is where the magic occurred. Nearly all of the instruments, amps and other equipment is original from the 1950s.
We were very honored to have lucked into this tour, and to have Dave lead us through the facility. It was easily one of the highlights of the 3 week road trip.
The actual mic that Buddy Holly recorded all those classics. What an afternoon in Clovis, New Mexico.