60 years after 'the day the music died,' technology brings Buddy Holly back to perform in Iowa

(This is a repost of an article written for the Des Moines Register)

60 years after 'the day the music died,' technology brings Buddy Holly back to perform in Iowa

A hologram of Roy Orbison is currently on tour alongside a live concert orchestra. Harrison Hill, USA TODAY

Technology will soon allow Iowans who missed the final performance of Buddy Holly's life see the Texas rocker perform again "live" in the Hawkeye state.

A tour featuring holograms of Holly and Roy Orbison is coming to the Paramount Theatre in Cedar Rapids at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 22. Tickets, which go on sale at 10 a.m. Friday and cost $35 to $55, can be purchased at www.paramounttheatrecr.com or by phone at (319) 366-8203.

Known for songs such as "That'll Be the Day" and "Peggy Sue," Holly famously died in a plane crash on Feb. 3, 1959, following a Winter Dance Party tour stop at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake. Also killed in the crash were singers Ritchie Valens and J.P. “the Big Bopper” Richardson and pilot Roger Peterson.

It was deemed "the day the music died" by Don McLean in the 1971 acoustic opus “American Pie."


Orbison, who died of a heart attack at age 52 in 1988, landed nine songs — including "Oh, Pretty Woman" and "Crying" — in the Top 10 of Billboard magazine's Hot 100 chart.

California company BASE Hologram is presenting the Holly-Orbison concerts, which is titled "The Rock 'N' Roll Dream Tour."

The company uses motion-capture technology and body doubles to make two-dimensional images that "move" onstage. BASE previously presented a solo tour featuring the Orbison image, and the company's website touts an upcoming tour featuring a Whitney Houston image.

"Dream Tour" will feature backup singers and musicians onstage with the images of Orbison and Holly.

Orbison's estate and Holly's widow, Maria Elena Holly, worked with the BASE to make the tour a reality.

“Buddy and Roy were Texans who shared mutual respect and admiration for each other’s creative musical genius and brilliant songwriting abilities,” Holly said in a release.

"Their longtime fans and a new generation of fans will now have the opportunity to see these great legends perform together in a unique setting, showcasing two of the finest, most influential, and beloved artists in music history,” she added.

Each year, Buddy Holly fans flock to iconic Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake for the Winter Dance Party to remember him, Valens and Richardson. This year marked the 60th anniversary of the fatal flight.

Over the years, the event has grown from one night to a four-day party featuring an art show, sock hop and musical luncheons.

The dance sold out this year, and organizers have already kicked off planning for 2020.