On August 14, 1984, American record producer
and performer, Norman Petty whose recording studio in Clovis, New Mexico
was responsible for seminal recordings by the likes of Buddy Holly and
Buddy Knox, died in Lubbock, Texas of leukemia. The King of Clovis, a book
about Petty by Frank Blanas, was published in 2014.
Following a stint in the US Army, 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. 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,
a significant sum at the time. 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 ("Party Doll" was recorded at Petty's studio), 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.
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. His Clovis Studio was one of the top "go-to" studios for early
rockabilly and guitar instrumental (surf) sounds in the early 1960s.
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.
Petty produced a number of Canadian recording artists,
including Wes Dakus & the Rebels, Barry Allen, Gainsborough Gallery,
and the Happy Feeling. Winnipeg's Gettysbyrg Address recorded with Petty.
Early on, Petty served as Buddy Holly's manager however
he was later accused of siphoning off much of Holly's royalties leaving
Buddy with little. Petty also attached his name to Holly's song credits
thus claiming half the songwriting royalties. Petty had taken control of
Holly and the bandís finances, and the singer never seemed to earn enough.
Holly became suspicious of Petty and planned to sack him however he died
before doing so. When Holly died, his Lubbock bank account had a balance
of only $73.34.
~ John Einarson