CLEAR LAKE, Iowa---A moment of silence is offered at the end of the "Winter Dance Party" at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake. The annual concert commemorates the Feb. 3, 1959 airplane crash that killed rock n' roll stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, along with their pilot. Their final show was at the Surf.
The moment of silence would have been better suited for this year's headliner Gary Busey.
Busey portrayed Holly in the acclaimed 1978 film "The Buddy Holly Story." On Saturday night (Feb.2) Busey fronted a four-piece band that included Holly's original guitarist Tommy Allsup. Wearing thick black rimmed Buddy Holly type glasses, Busey staggered through Holly hits like "Rave On" and "Peggy Sue."......
.....He forgot words and played misguided guitar chords. Busey seemed to channel Tom Waits through the typically charming "Words of Love."
The former Leon Russell sideman looked lost, but Busey has never been the same since he suffered major brain damage in a 1988 motorcycle accident. It was Busey's debut performance at the "Winter Dance Party" which draws music fans from across the globe. "I usually don't have anything to do at this time of year, so I'll be back," Busey told the sold out audience.
People walked out in droves during Busey's set.After the show several fans reported of a backstage altercation that involved Busey and Ritchie Valens's sisters Erma Norton and Connie Lemos.
One fan who wished to remain anonymous said, "I heard a commotion. I saw Ritchie Valens' sisters leave and they were visibly upset. One of them was crying. Somebody walked her out. I heard somebody bumped into somebody and it got physical, but I don't know what happened. I didn't think it was that big a deal because I later saw him posing for pictures. I thought if something bad had happened, they would have taken him out."
During the 2010 season of NBC's "Celebrity Apprentice," Busey picked a fight with fellow cast member Meat Loaf.
An e-mail to Connie Lemos was not answered.
Jeff Nicholas is President of the Surf Ballroom and Museum. "They bumped into each other," Nicholas said on Tuesday. "Whether or not there was a shove, I don't know. I know music stirs passion but this music and this spot stirs an extreme amount of passion for the Valens family and Gary Busey.
"I haven't gotten the full debriefing from the security crew but it sounds like it lasted two seconds. This was during the final event at the Surf with the moment of silence and the video with Buddy, Ritchie and the Bopper up on the screen. We talk a bit about the plane crash and that the music didn't die. I've been here with Connie and Erma at different times during that segment and that's very emotional for them."
Based solely on his lame performance, will Busey be invited back to future events?
"We thought it was historically significant to bring Gary Busey to the Surf," Nicholas answered. "We screened 'The Buddy Holly Story.' (On Friday). He took questions. Several people from around the country and the world stood up and said they didn't know anything about Buddy Holly until they saw his movie. Buddy came alive again through that movie. We sit back a week, get feedback, reassess, rest up and begin to talk about next year. I don't want to make a comment about who will be there next year until we get a chance to do that."