Tommy Allsup

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Tommy Allsup
Tommy Allsup.jpg
Allsup in 2009
Background information
Birth name Tommy Douglas Allsup
Born (1931-11-24)November 24, 1931
Owasso, Oklahoma, U.S.
Died January 11, 2017(2017-01-11) (aged 85)
Springfield, Missouri, U.S.
Genres Rock and roll, country, western swing
Occupation(s) Musician, producer
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1949–2016
Labels Liberty
Associated acts Buddy Holly, Waylon Jennings

Tommy Douglas Allsup (November 24, 1931 – January 11, 2017) was an American rockabilly and swing musician.[1][2]

Personal life

Allsup was born near Owasso, Oklahoma in 1931[3] and was an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation. Allsup had a son, Austin, who is also a musician and competed as a contestant on the 11th season of The Voice.[4][5]


Allsup worked with entertainers such as Buddy Holly[4] and Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys. Allsup was touring with Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson when he lost a fateful coin toss with Valens for a seat on the plane that crashed, killing Valens, Holly, Richardson, and pilot Roger Peterson on February 3, 1959.[6] Allsup moved to Los Angeles, played with local bands, and did session work, including a songwriting credit for The Ventures, "Guitar Twist",[7] also known as "Driving Guitars".

He returned to Odessa, Texas, where he worked with Ronnie Smith, Roy Orbison, and producer Willie Nelson.[5] In 1968, he moved to Nashville, where he did session work and produced Bob Wills', 24 Great Hits by Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. In the mid-1970s Tommy served as the producer for a pair of Asleep at the Wheel albums.[citation needed]

In 1979, he started a club, "Tommy's Heads Up Saloon", in Fort Worth.[8] The club was named for Allsup's coin toss with Valens 20 years beforehand.[9]

The last surviving member of Buddy Holly's "touring" Crickets for the 1959 Winter Dance Party, Tommy Allsup died on January 11, 2017, at 85 years old in a hospital in Springfield, Missouri after complications from hernia surgery.[1][10][11]

See also

Further reading

  • Lehmer, Larry (2004). The day the music died: the last tour of Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens. Music Sales Group. ISBN 0-8256-7287-2. 
  • Patterson, R (2004). Take a Walk on the Dark Side: Rock and Roll Myths, Legends, and Curses. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-7432-4423-0. 


  1. ^ a b "Friend: Allsup, guitarist who toured with Holly, used life after coin flip 'for good' | Lubbock Online | Lubbock Avalanche-Journal". Lubbock Online. 1959-02-03. Retrieved 2017-01-12. 
  2. ^ "We are sadden by the news that Tommy... - Buddy Holly Center". Facebook. Retrieved 2017-01-12. 
  3. ^ "Tommy Allsup, guitarist who backed Buddy Holly, Kenny Rogers and others, dies at 85". Retrieved January 13, 2017. 
  4. ^ a b "Jammin' in the new year — big concerts hit Waco this weekend". 
  5. ^ a b "Rockabilly, country music guitar great Tommy Allsup dies at age 85". 
  6. ^ Ward, Ed (2016). The History of Rock & Roll, volume one, 1920–1963. New York: Flatiron Books. pp. 202–204. ISBN 978-1-250-07116-3. 
  7. ^ Del Halterman (2009). Walk-Don't Run – The Story of the Ventures. ISBN 978-0-557-04051-3. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ Larry Lehmer (2004). The Day the Music Died: The Last Tour of Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens. Music Sales Group. ISBN 978-0-8256-7287-3. 
  10. ^ "Guitarist Who Won Music's Most Famous Coin Flip Is Dead". 
  11. ^ "Rockabilly, country music guitarist great Tommy Allsup Dies at 85". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved January 12, 2017. 

External links

  • Online biography
  • Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame—Tommy Allsup
  • Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture – Allsup, Tommy
  • Voices of Oklahoma interview with Tommy Allsup. First person interview conducted on September 8, 2011, with Tommy Allsup.
  • [1]
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