My favorite Ritchie Valens song is "Come On, Let's Go."
And that's what I would have said to Gary Busey as he bullied Valens' sisters Connie Valens and Erma Norton after the annual Feb. 2 Winter Dance Party at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Ia.
Valens confirmed the brush-up in a Monday conversation from her home in Arnolds Park, Ia.
She needed time to decompress from the event but vowed (with a touch of irony) to get her "big brother" Carlos Santana after Busey........
.......Busey was the dance party headliner because he portrayed Buddy Holly in the 1978 film "The Buddy Holly Story." The concert commemorates Holly, Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, who died in a Feb. 2, 1959 plane crash five miles north of Clear Lake.
The show always ends with a moment of silence in honor of the fallen stars.
"I was standing backstage," Valens said. "Tommy (Allsup, Holly's original guitarist) had just come off stage. I was sitting with his wife Nicole. Tommy put one arm around me and one arm around Nicole. My sister came over to join us. So I moved by the right of the stage. There was perfect access. I wasn't in the way. I saw Gary Busey coming toward me so I moved over even more. Then I heard my brother in law Randy say, 'Hey, watch it,' because he bumped my sister. Something in the audience caught my attention. As I looked away Mr. Busey took his right arm, swung it and caught my shoulder. If it hadn't been for the monitors that were there, he would have pushed me over."
Connie Valens is 5'5". Her heels made her 5'7."
Busey is 6'0."
No one should endure this much a-Busey.
"He didn't apologize," Valens continued. "Randy went after him to get an apology. Mr. Busey saw him coming after him, turned around and put his hand up. That's when the security guard got between them. Gary reached over the security guard and bopped my brother in law in the head. Open handed. I was telling people to stop everything. I lost it and started sobbing for about ten minutes. We were helped out of the backstage area. I'm not used to being treated like that.
"He was cussing, ranting and raving. I had no idea Mr. Busey was so out of control. I was pretty traumatized by the whole thing. I'm going to call my big brother Carlos Santana and tell him what he did to me. My sister (Erma Norton) and I saw Carlos last May on Ritchie's birthday (May 13) in Las Vegas, where my sister lives."
Jeff Nicholas is President of the Surf Ballroom and Museum. He maintained his not-much-comment stance of my previous post, reiterating he did not see the dust-up.
"I think the world of Connie Valens and the Valens family," he said on Monday evening . "I feel very very bad that they left the Surf under the circumstances they did. I'll do anything I can to repair this." Nicholas would not disclose his contact number for Busey in an effort to get an apology. My e-mail request to Busey's manager has not been answered as of yet.
In upcoming days you can catch Lemos and Busey in separate venues. Which is a good thing.
* Valens appears with Richie Lee & the Fabulous 50s, a young Des Moines based Holly-Valens impersonator in a "Sweetheart Dance" at 7 p.m. Feb. 16 at the historic Electric Park Ballroom , 310 Conger st. in Waterloo, Ia. [(319) 233-3050), $15, partial proceeds will help purchase instruments for Waterloo school children). Expect Valens to cover her brother's hits "Donna" and "La Bamba." Valens was only 17 when he died. He was nine years older than Connie.
* Busey appears as a nutjob in the March 3 season premiere of NBC-TV's all-star edition of "Celebrity Apprentice."
Carlos Santana is not on the bill.
During the 2011 season of "Celebrity Apprentice" Busey picked a fight with fellow cast member Meat Loaf.
Valens said Busey even mocked the formal attire of Chicago radio legend Bob Hale, 78.
Hale is a true gentleman. The original WLS-AM rock jock was the host of the final Holly, Valens, Big Bopper performance on Feb. 2, 1959. He attended last week's dance party wearing a crisp gray suit and a necktie.
"I thought I was very handsome," Hale said Monday night. "I've got a book of insults, so his didn't measure up to the top ten. Gary left a lot of dust in his trail. In some cases it was insults, in some cases it was semi-physical. This guy has a problem. How much slack do you cut somebody whose brain has been damaged from a (1988) motorcycle accident?"
Valens recalled, "I met Gary Busey over 25 years ago at the premiere of 'La Bamba' in Hollywood. We talked about his role in playing Buddy. What got into him at this show, I cannot tell you."
Even hard core fans walked out during Busey's disjointed stage performance as Buddy Holly. Busey forgot words and screwed up chords.
"I've been going to the Surf for 20 years and I've only seen that one other time," Valens said. "And that was when Don McLean played 'American Pie' for an hour. People were like, 'Okay, after the first half-hour I'm done.' He kept playing it and was getting slower and slower like the record player was dying. I actually felt sorry for Mr. Busey on stage. The Surf has been nothing but good and I understand why they stood by him and allowed him his indiscretions. They promised their audience Gary Busey. Last year Chuck Berry was supposed to show up (he cancelled and was replaced by Pat Boone!). They couldn't do that two years in a row. The Surf has always treated us with the utmost respect and consideration. "
The trip to Clear Lake is always a goodwill mission for Valens, Norton, their brothers Mario Valens, "La Bamba" Bob Morales and other family members.
This year they loaned the Surf exhibit the wallet Ritchie Valens carried the night of his crash, an item subsequently carried by their mother for many years. They also loaned the Surf their brother's bow tie. "The bow tie was in the first portrait my Mom had taken of him," she said. "In this little photography studio named Riccardo's in Pacioma (Calif.)," back when life was larger and celebrities were smaller.