Surf Ballroom & Museum in Clear Lake, Iowa will be designated official rock and roll landmark

CLEVELAND (October 13, 2008) - The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and the Surf Ballroom & Museum will commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Winter Dance Party where rock and roll pioneers Buddy Holly, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson and Ritchie Valens played their final concert on February 2, 1959.  Later that night after boarding a plane bound for North Dakota, three of rock and roll’s brightest stars fell to the earth, a day immortalized in Don McLean’s 1971 hit song “American Pie” as “the day the music died.”

Now, 50 Winters Later, a weeklong celebration at the Surf Ballroom & Museum will begin on Wednesday, January 28, 2009 honoring the lives, music, and influence of Holly, The Big Bopper and Valens. This once-in-a-lifetime event will feature evening concerts, symposium panels and other educational programs with special appearances from family and friends including Tommy Allsup, Big Bopper Jr., Carl Bunch, Cousin Brucie, The Crickets, Bob Hale, Maria Elena Holly, Chris Montez, Johnny Preston, Bobby Vee and many more. On Monday February 2, the anniversary of the final show, a special concert will take place at the Surf Ballroom, featuring an all-star lineup that will perform on the same legendary stage where their music was played five decades ago. The tribute concert is expected to air nationally as part of the 2009 Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) television season.

“For one week we will focus on the extraordinary lives and legacies of three pioneering men who forever left their mark on rock and roll history and American society,” said Terry Stewart, president and CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. “It will be a poignant and memorable experience honoring this pivotal watershed cultural event.”

Jeff Nicholas, president of the Surf Ballroom & Museum, added “Our mission both in Clear Lake and at the Surf Ballroom & Museum has always been to see that Buddy, Ritchie and The Bopper’s musical legacies will live forever.  To this end, our desire is to make this a signature event in the history of rock ‘n roll.”

Born Charles Hardin Holley in 1936, Buddy Holly was a rock pioneer who has influenced such icons as Bob Dylan, The Beatles and Elvis Costello. Holly formed The Crickets in Lubbock, Texas and later opened for a young Elvis Presley before The Crickets hit big with their #1 single “That’ll Be The Day” in 1957. Buddy Holly was one of the first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2004 Rolling Stone magazine listed him as #13 of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.In the short 17 years of his life, Ritchie Valens became a rock and roll icon with his renowned songs “La Bamba” and “Donna.” As one of the first Latino rockers, Valens has notably influenced such artists as Los Lobos, the Beach Boys and Los Lonely Boys. Valens was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

While working as a deejay for KTRM in Beaumont, Texas, Jiles Perry Richardson Jr. coined the name “The Big Bopper,” an alias he would be known by for the rest of his life and long after. In 1957, The Big Bopper broadcast for six days straight establishing a world record for continuous radio broadcasting.  Richardson was also a gifted songwriter who penned lyrics for George Jones and Johnny Preston. “White Lightning” became Jones’ first #1 country hit and Preston’s “Running Bear” also climbed to #1.

Additionally, the Rock Hall will dedicate the Surf Ballroom & Museum as a historic rock and roll landmark as part of the Museum’s ongoing Landmark Series which identifies locations in America significant to the origins and development of rock and roll. Along with the Surf Ballroom, additional sites that have been designated as historic rock and roll landmarks by the Rock Hall are the Whisky-a-Go-Go in Los Angeles where the Doors were resident performers; Brooklyn High School in Brooklyn, Ohio, the location Elvis played his first concert north of the Mason-Dixon line; and The Crossroads in Clarksdale, Mississippi, the cradle of the blues.

For more information on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, visit For more information about the 50 Winters Later event, visit

About the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is the nonprofit organization that exists to educate visitors, fans and scholars from around the world about the history and continuing significance of rock and roll music. It carries out this mission both through its operation of a world-class museum that collects, preserves, exhibits and interprets this art form and through its library and archives as well as its educational programs.

The Museum is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  On Wednesdays the Museum is open until 9 p.m. Museum admission is $22 for adults, $17 for seniors (60+), $13 for children (9-12) and children under 8 and Museum members are free. When you become a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the world of rock and roll becomes yours to explore. Call 216.515.1939 for information on becoming a member. For general inquiries, please call 216.781.ROCK.

About the Surf Ballroom & Museum

The Surf Ballroom & Museum is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to preserve, maintain and manage the historic Surf Ballroom property as a center utilized to enhance the quality of life in the North Iowa area by providing cultural, educational and entertainment opportunities.  Additionally, the organization is committed to both the promotion and enhancement of the museum’s quality to ensure that the Surf Ballroom’s display of musical history is available to future generations.

The Surf is open Monday through Friday year-round from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. and additionally from June through September Saturdays from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.  Admission to the Surf Ballroom & Museum is a suggested donation of $5.  With a capacity of 2,100, the Surf also operates as a concert venue with events scheduled regularly. For additional information about the Surf Ballroom, please call 641.357.6151 or visit