by JERRY ENGLER

I’m here to tell you that some of your dreams can and will come true if you just keep at ‘em. I was told after doing a Rock and Roll show with Buddy Holly to go out to Clovis, New Mexico and make a record with his manager in the Norman Petty Studio. Well as fate would have it I met Norman in Detroit while we were both on a tour for Brunswick records in the late ‘50’s. I was promoting my single “Sputnik” . He also invited me to come on out to Clovis and so I said ok.

I had to borrow the money for the session and for the plane fair and grabbed my 1950 D-28 Martin guitar and took it on board with me for the 747 flight to Dallas, Texas. From Dallas to Clovis I flew on a very small plane because I was told that Clovis Airport was a small airport and that it was the only size plane it could accommodate. Man, they weren’t kidding! I was greeted by two young men who were friends of Norman and taken to Norman’s home. We took a tour so I could not only see the front of the studio, but the Nor-Va-Jack Publishing Co. as well. We then drove around to the back where the Petty’s home was. Vi Petty came out and introduced herself and said Norman would be along shortly. When Norman came into the house he said he was glad to see me and apologized for not meeting me personally, but that something had come up and he needed to attend to it. Vi invited me to sit down for lunch and Norman offered to take me for a tour of Clovis later that afternoon.

I loved being out west again since I had spent four years in Phoenix, Arizona as a kid and loved and missed it very much. We toured the town which was fairly small and then drove out into the desert. It was absolutely great. We talked a great deal about the business and he told me all about Buddy’s career so far. Needless to say, the both of them were doing quite well in terms of success. Back at the studio he gave me the tour which included seeing the echo chamber built in a big room in the attached building. He said Buddy’s family had tiled it for better effect and that I would be using it that evening for my session. I got to see the record pressing machine he had just received from Germany and said he would be able to professionally press records himself for his customers. I was impressed and thought the record press was pretty neat indeed. Norman said he had a surprise for me and proceeded to tell me Buddy Holly would be playing on my session. I was ecstatic to say the least. He also said George Atwood would be on bass and Bo Clark on drums. I didn’t know of either of them, but learned that George, who was much older than I, had one heck of a career playing bass in some really big bands and had made a lot of recordings as well. Bo was maybe a little bit younger than me, but had played with Buddy a lot and had session experience with Norman. Well it all sounded good to me.

Later that afternoon Buddy showed up with his honeymoon wife and his brand new Caddy, it was beautiful and so was Maria his wife. It was good to see him and my dream was now coming true. I would be in the hands of a great guitar player who would help to produce and arrange my session. With any luck I would maybe have a hit as good as one of his. That was a big maybe. I played maybe twenty or twenty five songs I had written including one I wrote with him in mind. He picked that particular one titled “What A’ You Gonna Do?” and another one “I Sent You Roses”. Vi Petty and I were pushing for “Bayou Baby” which both of us liked a lot with Vi playing the piano. Buddy passed on it and to this day I wish I had stuck to my guns.

It was great sitting knee to knee playing guitars with Buddy and shooting the breeze with him. When we did “ I Sent You Roses” he asked if I could lower the key and told me that he recorded singing sometimes in a voice no louder than speaking and that it worked great. Before I could try it a voice came from the control room saying “Buddy leave Jerry alone and let him sing in the key he feels comfortable with”. I was singing in what you call an open throat and had never tried it in a closed throat before and wish I had. I felt I could put more feeling in it with an open throat. Today I have a version of it recorded in a much lower key and I like it. Buddy came up with the arrangement for “What A You Gonna Do?” and Norman and Buddy both worked on “I Sent You Roses”. For the recording session I used all the same equipment including microphones etc that Buddy used and that also was wonderful. All the musicians were in the main studio and I was in the reception area where it became a vocal booth. I really couldn’t see them playing and that was something I feel I missed out on. However, I did enjoy the rehearsals immensely and have treasured memories of that. After laying down the songs I thought we were through for the session. Buddy came up to me after hearing the playback of “What A’ you Gonna Do?. He asked if he could add some bells to it and I said we’d have to do it all over again. He said no we can overdub them. He went on to explain and Norman showed me how he would do it . I then agreed and Buddy laid down the bells.

Since this was a paid for session, I own the masters. Both songs will be published on my new CD in 2005 as a bonus with Buddy on guitar and…on bells. The recording session was completed on September 7, 1958. For all you Buddy Holly fans this was Buddy’s birthday.


© 2005