SURF BALLROOM – Clear Lake, Iowa

surfballroom.jpg    SURF BALLROOM – Clear Lake, Iowa

Description – This historic ballroom has been home to the big bands in its earlier days and continues to have big-name acts (rock and roll, jazz, blues, and big bands playing their traditional music) come to it. The ballroom was the site of Buddy Holly’s last concert in February of 1959. He died in a plane crash north of Clear Lake following that concert. The ballroom observes the anniversary of that performance each year. The Surf has recently been restored and memorabilia of different music eras are displayed on the walls.

Admission – Free admission – Charge for group tours (30 or more); Self Guided Tours are Free

Directions – on the north shore of Clear Lake

Location: 460 N Shore Dr, Clear Lake, IA 50428

Hours – 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Monday – Friday, year-round

Credit Cards – None

Phone – (641) 357-6151 


  1. We have tried to find out the names of all the performers who played at that fateful concert. Can you help? Further, do you know who really gave up their seat to Richie Valens. Have seen it stated both ways: Eddie Cochran and Waylon Jennings.

    Thank you,
    T. Hale

  2. Good morning,
    Thank you for contacting with your questions. This is the information we have regarding both who was playing and who gave up their seat. I hope this helps you.

    The concert bill included Dion and the Belmonts, rising teen star Frankie Sardo and a trio that would perish in a post-concert airplane crash: Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper (J.P. Richardson Jr.) and Ritchie Valens.

    Waylon Jennings gave his seat up to Richardson, who was running a fever and had trouble fitting his stocky frame comfortably into the bus seats.


    Pat Watson

  3. Terry Courtnadge says:

    I understand a special show is happening on the nite of February, 2nd, 2009 with ‘everyone’ connected with that fateful nite 50 years ago due to be there.

    I alas, cannot be in person ; but I shall be wishing I could be from my home on the south coast of England.

  4. Even though I wasn’t even born yet when that fateful night happened, I was wondering why they took off in a blinding snowstorm?

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