Sunday, November 23, 2008

Our evening with Buddy Holly's Peggy Sue

Whatever happened to Peggy Sue? OMG, you never know who you're going to run into at the Chevy Vettefest. Lee and I intended to spend a couple of hours there Saturday. Six hours later, we were planning a dinner outing with Buddy Holly's Peggy Sue Gerron, a charming 68-year-old West Texan who has just penned her memoires and is touring the auto circuit doing book signings

It was by accident that we met. Or was it? A spiritual woman who had prophetic nightmares of the impending airplane dissaster that killed Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and The Big Bopper, may beg to differ.

I had just spotted a guy wearing a Carroll Shelby jacket. In a sea of Chevrolets, I figured that the guy had guts, and he must have had something to do with my old friend Shelby. (I was on the public relations team that launched the Shelby Daytona for Dodge in the early 80s).

Jerry Heasley, the Shelby jacket wearing guy, was a West Texan like Peggy Sue; they were friends. He had just released his beautiful tabletop book on the Mustang. A photo journalist and author, Jerry's books set themselves apart from car company produced books as they are personnal accounts, and behind the scene photo essays. He was at the Vettefest to promote his Corvette book and slipped in a copy of the Mustang one alongside. For me, it was memory lane. Many of the people he wrote about were friends and business collegues of mine from my 14-year auto industry stint. (I spent four years at Crain Communication's Automotive News and 10 years with Chrysler Corp. public relations). Jerry and Peggy Sue were sharing booth space.

It was like a past life experience for both Lee and I. Lee began his early career as a guitarist. It was a simplier time before BU and Northwestern. He and childhood friend Steve "Funkytown" Greenberg played in many bands, touring the midwest circuit, playing dance halls, much like the ones played by Buddy Holly. I was a band promoter during college and later worked with music sponsorshipsand promotion at Chrysler. My first independent pr gig was working for the band The Association (Cherish, Windy, Never My Love, Along Comes Mary).
And now, years later, we were back talking about music, life on the road and cars.

We called Steve so he could chat with Peggy Sue. I don't know who was more excited, Peggy Sue for meeting the guy who wrote and performed the one hit wonder "Funkytown," or Steve who was touched by the woman immortalized by one of Rock 'n Roll's most significant icons.

Whichever, it was a fantastic evening down memory lane.

Appropriate today, perhaps more than ever, The Chevy Vettefest is a celebration of a time when people had a love affair with the American automobile. It made sense to have Peggy Sue there, to tell her story and represent the person that changed American pop music history forever.
And for those who lived it, a chance to recount the 50 years that have passed since that fatefilled night.

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