This year’s Winter Dance Party included a special presentation to the Surf Ballroom and Museum from the family of Ritchie Valens. Siblings Irma Norton, Mario Ramirez, Connie Lemos and Bob Morales have loaned the Surf the wallet their brother was carrying when the plane carrying him, Buddy Holly
and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson crashed after their February 1959 performance at the Surf. A bow tie, records and family photos are also now on display in the Surfside Lounge.
“A big part of our mission at the Surf is to tell the story of the music and the performers,” Jeff Nicholas, president of the non-profit Surf. He thanked the Valens family for continuing to come to the Surf and share their brother’s story. “I think the family feels lifted up when they are here and they feel our love and passion for Ritchie and his music.”
The family agreed, saying they have shed tears of joy and sadness in Clear Lake, but ultimately find the Winter Dance Party to be a great celebration of their brother’s life and music, as well as Holly, Richardson and many musicians.
Bob, who was 21-years-old at the time of his brother’s death and closest in age to 17-year-old Ritchie at the time, said he was hesitant to visit the plane crash site, but was glad he did. He expressed his love for those who have welcomed he and his family to Clear Lake and treated them so well.
Connie was eight and Irma, seven-years-old, at the time their brother died. They said he was like a father figure to them. They shared that their mother carried Ritchie’s wallet for years following his death. The inside of the leather wallet features Ritchie’s signature.
“We don’t have many belongings, so they are all very precious to us,” said Connie. “But we believe it’s time we share them. We were unanimous to share them.”
The bow tie which Ritchie wore is a more recent edition to the family’s collection. Connie explained it was obtained five years ago. A man from Texas actually purchased the bow tie on- Read More Via e-Edition