7th Buddy Holly Week

Early September 1982

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From Club Sandwich N°27, 1982:

All over England the fashions and music of the fifties are happening once more — wide skirts and drape jackets, pony tails and quiffs are the fashion of the moment, and dance halls reverberate to the sounds of Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley
and other hits of the 50’s.

The reason for this outbreak of 50’s nostalgia is the approach of Buddy Holly Week 1982.

Buddy Holly Week, is an annual event, started by MPL in 1976 as a tribute to one of rock and roll’s greatest and best loved talents, and is now established as a major yearly event in the rock calendar.

As this year is the 25th anniversary of Buddy Holly and the Crickets first No. 1 single — That’ll be the Day, which entered the UK charts on September 27, 1957 and reached No. 1 on November 1 — it was decided that this year’s Buddy Holly
Week should have a distinctly British theme.

MPL decided to set up a search to find the King and Queen of the Teds — a couple who would be true fans of the 50’s and still live in that period, dressing fifties and true fans of the music.

So, in conjunction with Mecca Leisure, the entertainment company who operate dance halls all over England, MPL set up the Buddy Holly Rock ‘n’ Roll Championships, a contest to find the best rock ‘n’ roll couple in the country.

MPL wanted people all over Britain to be able to qualify, so the contest was set up with 10 regional heats leading to a Grand Final to take place in London at the Lyceum.

Heats took place in ten cities — Manchester, Nottingham, Bristol, Birmingham, Dunstable, London (north and south), Glasgow, Liverpool, Leeds and Newcastle.

Each heat was staged as a real 50’s rock and roll evening, with everyone there dressed the part and music strictly from that period.

Dozens of couples came forward to compete in each heat — and they ranged in age from 18 up to mid-forties, some having only recently discovered rock and roll but now dedicated fans, and others who were fans of Holly during his
hit period — some even remembered having seen him on his concert tour of the UK.

Eleven couples have now been chosen from these heats and all be coming to London on September 7th to compete in the final.

The final should be a night to be remembered. It is being staged as The Biggest Rock ‘n’ Roll Party in the World. Over 2,000 people will be there, all of them dressed like rockers, and apart from the finals of the Championship contest, the
evening will feature music from dj Flash Fifties, live music from Mike Berry and the Outlaws and The Stargazers, as well as other specially staged events and competitions — all planned to truly recreate the 50’s.

Judging the competition will be dj Tony Prince, Stuart Coleman, the producer responsible for all of Shakin’ Stevens’ hits, Billy Fury, choreographer Arlene Phillips (there to evaluate our competing couple’s dancing prowess) and Mari
Wilson, Miss Beehive 1982.

Out of the eleven couples 3 will be selected to win the trip of a lifetime. They will all be flown to Dallas, Texas — Buddy Holly’s home state, to spend a week there visiting Buddy’s home town, and seeing the sights of the place where Buddy’s
career began.

They will be special guests of Buddy’s widow, Maria Elena Holly, who is planning some very special celebrations.

Paul & Linda Mccartney at Buddy Holly party in London 1982 . (Photo by Morris Graham/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)

From Club Sandwich N°28, 1982:

On September 25 an excited group gathered at Gatwick Airport for our flight to Dallas, Texas. Stars of the party were the three couples who won the trip by taking top honours in The Buddy Holly Rock ‘n’ Roll Championship at The Biggest Rock ‘n’ Roll Party In The World, which launched Buddy Holly Week at London’s Lyceum September 7.

The Championship Grand Final was the culmination of a summer-long, nationwide search for the best rock ‘n’ rolling couples in Britain. In addition to cash prizes, a trophy and medals, the top three couples in the land jived their way to the ‘Hollyday’ of a lifetime in Buddy Holly’s home state, Texas.

First-place couple Les and Tanneh Prendergast from Liverpool had extra reason to be in a Hollyday mood, because they were married a few days before the trip so that it could be their honeymoon! Also on the trip were Kevin Ford, a Weights and Measures trainee and his partner Pippa Ford, a hairdresser, both from Stoke-on-Trent, and Trevor Luff, a mechanic from Walton-on-Thames, and his dance partner Helen Shore, a secretary from Surbiton. Our marvellous hosts and party leaders were Mr. and Mrs. Alan Crowder from MPL, who, on behalf of Paul and Linda McCartney made sure everyone was treated royally on what proved to be an unforgettable journey.

In the week we were greeted at Dallas Airport by Buddy Holly’s widow, Maria Elena Holly Diaz (a tireless ball of energy who charmed everyone); taken for a tour of the city in chauffered Cadillac limousines; stayed in the palatial Anatole Hotel and visited a real Texan rodeo; the Six Flags Over Texas amusement park; the Lone Star beer brewery; the historic Alamo in beautiful San Antonio and even a drive-in movie. Along with the sight-seeing everyone had time to enjoy shopping, luxuriating in the hotel pool and jacuzzi, and over-eating in a sumptuous succession of American restaurants!

But the highlight of the week for everyone was the overnight trip to Buddy Holly’s hometown, Lubbock. Welcomed there by Bill Griggs, president of the U.S. Buddy Holly Memorial Society, we saw Buddy’s home, his high school, the city’s memorial statue of Buddy, and paid a moving pilgrimage to Buddy’s simple grave. Most touching of all, we were surprised and gratified to be warmly met by Buddy’s parents, brothers Larry and Travis and sister Patricia, who all expressed their delight at the way in which Buddy’s memory has been so honoured in the U.K.

The final celebration of the week as a 50’s party in Dallas on our last night, where the British Buddy Holly Rock ‘n’ Roll Champions judged local jivers and were made official Texan citizens by a representative of the governor of the state. Exhausted, but full of fantastic memories from the week, we boarded the flight back to London with some reluctance. As Helen Shore said back at Gatwick, ‘I may never have such a wonderful trip again, but I’ll always know how it feels to live like a millionaire for a week!

Last updated on September 10, 2020

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