OUR TRIBUTE TO THE NIGHT BUDDY HOLLY ROCKED HULL
TAKE a walk into St Stephen's shopping centre. Just to your right, beyond the sliding doors on to Ferensway, a moment in rock'n'roll history unfolded.
Close to this spot, a slim, young man, wearing black-rimmed specs, sang about Peggy Sue.
A little under a year later, he would be killed in a plane crash and the cult of Buddy Holly, which continues to attract devotees, would echo on.
Now, 55 years to the day from Buddy's appearance with The Crickets on the site of the demolished Regal Cinema, his memory is being evoked.
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The shopping centre is to pay tribute to the concert tomorrow, with Hull tribute artist Dave Remblence.
Appearing as Bootleg Buddy, Dave will perform a series of songs during the day on the upper terrace at St Stephen's.
"Buddy Holly's appearance was a one-off – it never happened before and never happened again," said Jim Harris, St Stephen's shopping centre manager.
"In those days, rationing had not long finished, so it was a bit of American glitz coming to Hull."
The concert on March 19, 1958, was part of Buddy's UK tour, which saw him and The Crickets crisscrossing the country.
Among those joining them on stage was a young comic, Des O'Connor, who delivered the gags and a song or two himself.
The Crickets' drummer, Jerry Allison, speaking to the Mail from his home in Tennesse, said the tour had seen them bonding with their fellow performers.
"We had a great time in England. Everyone was so nice to us and that tour was an important one for us at that point in our career," said Jerry.
"It was a package tour and there was a great camaraderie with the other acts on the road including Des O'Connor – we'd all be chatting away.
"We were working every night. We'd play whatever town we were in, stay out all night and sample the local ale, and then sleep on the bus the next day."
The band stayed in the White House in Jameson Street, taking to the stage for a performance that saw them joined by artists including The Tanner Sisters and singer Gary Miller.
Jim said: "It is 55 years ago – lots of people in Hull who will be in their early 70s now might have been in the queue that night and met their date, or their future wife or husband at the venue.
"We'd love to hear their memories.
"For that generation it was an iconic venue. Buddy was part of that American revolution, which for Fifties kids was unbelievable. They'd read about it in magazines then they got to see him.
"Dave Remblence had come to us and said that it is a special day for lots of music fans and asked us if we'd be interested in celebrating it.
"I think it is a great nostalgia story."
Buddy's performance was part of a national headlining tour, which opened at London's Trocadero on March 1 and finished at the Hammersmith Gaumont on March 25.
Promoted by the cigar-chomping impresario Lew Grade, the band's stay in Britain also saw them perform on the Sunday Night At The London Palladium TV programme.
Among those who witnessed the tour was a 14-year-old Mick Jagger. Six years later with The Rolling Stones, Jagger enjoyed his first Top 10 UK hit with one of Buddy's songs, Not Fade Away.
The Regal – later renamed the ABC – also paid host to concerts by The Beatles and Jagger's band, which St Stephen's is looking to mark later this year.
"This is the first time we have done such an event in centre," said Jim.
"There's no better way to kick it off than a celebration of the city's music heritage.
"It was an iconic venue that was on this site – it is long gone but cherished."
For Jerry, who helped compose songs including Peggy Sue, the love for music endures.
"We do still play, but we pick and choose now – we've got a performance in New York in June, which we're looking forward to," he said.
"It's not as a much fun to write songs now – there's not as much an enthusiasm as it was – but I still love to hear great music."
He says the St Stephen's event is a "great honour and privilege" – alongside being a reminder of a "confident guy" who he first met at high school.
"Buddy and me were best friends who liked rock'n'roll," said Jerry.
"I miss him to this day."
Bootleg Buddy will play tomorrow at noon, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm; then at 7.30pm and 9pm. The free event will take place on the Upper Terrace of St Stephen's shopping centre in Ferensway, Hull.