- May 25, 1927
- Aug 15, 1984
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Norman Petty (May 25, 1927 – August 15, 1984) was an American musician and record producer who is best known for his association with Buddy Holly and the Crickets, who recorded in his studio.
Petty was born in the small town of Clovis, New Mexico, United States. He began playing piano at an early young age. While in high school, he regularly performed on a fifteen-minute show on a local radio station. After his graduation in 1945 he was drafted into the United States Air Force, returned and married his high school sweetheart Violet Ann Brady on June 20, 1948. The couple lived briefly in Dallas, Texas, where Petty worked as a part time engineer at a recording studio. Eventually moving back to their hometown of Clovis, New Mexico.
Petty and his wife, Vi, founded the Norman Petty Trio with guitarist Jack Vaughn. Due to the local success of their independent debut release of “Mood Indigo”, they landed a recording contract with RCA Records and sold half a million copies of the recording, and were voted Most Promising Instrumental Group of 1954 by Cashbox magazine. In 1957, their song “Almost Paradise” hit number 18, and Petty won his first BMI writers award. The song had various cover versions released with Roger Williams’ version selling the best.
Despite the success of his own records, Petty began construction of his Clovis studio in late 1954. The new studio was state of the art, his estimated spending at about $100,000. With the success of “Almost Paradise” it was completed to its current state in mid 1957. In his original 7th Street studio, aside from songs for his own musical group he also produced early singles (several which were hits) for Texas musicians Roy Orbison, Buddy Knox, Waylon Jennings, Charlie “Sugartime” Phillips, Sonny West, Carolyn Hester and Terry Noland. He also produced all of Buddy Holly’s recordings that can be classified as rockabilly. Also, the hits “Sugar Shack” and “Bottle of Wine” by Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs and “Wheels” by the String-A-Longs were recorded at Petty’s studio in the early 1960s.
Due to the success with instrumental groups, Petty was a reputable producer for bands of that genre to record with and his Clovis Studio was one of the top “go-to” studios for the guitar instrumental (surf) sound in the early 1960s.
Petty produced a number of Canadian recording artists, including Wes Dakus & the Rebels, Barry Allen, Gainsborough Gallery, and the Happy Feeling, all which had chart success in their homeland. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, recordings produced by Petty, in various musical styles, were issued by virtually every major record label in the United States and Canada, with numerous regional successes.
Petty served as Buddy Holly’s producer and also as his first manager until late 1958. Many of Holly’s best and most polished efforts were produced at the Clovis studio. After Holly’s death, Petty was put in charge of overdubbing unfinished Holly recordings by request of the Holley family (Buddy’s parents) and demos which had charting success overseas. However, Petty has been accused of pocketing Holly’s earnings. Petty had taken control of Holly and the band’s finances, and the singer never seemed to earn enough. He became suspicious of Petty — who also regularly gave himself songwriting credits on Holly’s hits — and planned to sack him. When Holly died, his Lubbock bank account had a balance of only $73.34. […]
Last updated on March 4, 2020