A Canadian documentarian hasn’t given up on Davenport just yet.
Sevan Garabedian is nearing the end of post-production work for “Gotta Travel On: The Winter Dance Party Odyssey,” chronicling the final tour of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper, who were killed in a plane crash Feb. 3, 1959, near Clear Lake, Iowa.
He has photos from fans who were at the concerts, both before and after the fatal plane crash. (The tour continued with the other two acts.)
Every concert on the 24-city tour is accounted for but one, and guess which one that is: the show at the Capitol Theatre in downtown Davenport on Jan. 29, 1959, 44 years ago this Tuesday.
“I wanted to give one last shot to Davenport,” Garabedian said in a telephone conversation the other day. “It would really finish up the set, y’know?”
He’s offering what he calls a “significant reward” to anyone who has photos from that night at the Capitol. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Davenport stop was unique on the Winter Dance Party tour, he said. First of all, it wasn’t called the Winter Dance Party here. It was known as the “KSTT Concert of Stars,” presented by the local pop music radio powerhouse of the time.
“It was at the Capitol Theatre, not at an armory or ballroom like any of the other stops. So it wasn’t the Winter Dance Party because no one could dance,” Garabedian said. “The kids just had to sit for that one.”
“I’m 100 percent sure kids took pictures that night,” he said. The only reason he can figure that no photos have surfaced is that there was more space between the acts onstage and the audience in the theater setting.
There were two performances that night, and the price was a budget-busting $1.50. Besides Holly and the Crickets, Valens and the Big Bopper, Dion and the Belmonts and then-teen idol Frankie Sardo were on the bill.
Garabedian is proud of what is captured in the documentary, including interviews with all of the surviving musicians.
“It was a big deal,” he said. “Any other piece or documentary that I’ve seen had two or three musicians, maximum. We have six, maybe seven that we’ve interviewed.”
In the ensuing time, two of those players have passed away.
“These fans and musicians aren’t getting any younger, and neither is the primary audience for this,” Garabedian said. “You’d have to imagine that the kids in most of these small towns were in seventh heaven going to these shows.”
He’s targeting a fall release of the documentary and would like to premiere it at as many of the tour stops as he can, perhaps on its 55th anniversary next year.
And he hopes that one of those places is the Capitol, which closed in 2010 after a two-year run at a revival.
“It’s sad to hear it’s closed now, hopefully not closed forever,” he said.
Congrats to Rock Island native Matt Roberts, who was appointed the new head writer for CBS-TV’s “The Late Show with David Letterman” late last week.
A 1989 graduate of St. Katharine’s/St. Mark’s in Bettendorf , he is Letterman’s first new head writer in 14 years. In his 19 years working at the show, where he began as an intern wrangling celebrity guests, Roberts has been a talent researcher, segment producer, writer, supervising producer and, most recently, executive producer and writer.
Roberts told students at his alma mater, Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, last year that when he was president of the college’s activities board, he drove Teller, the latter half of the comedian-magician duo Penn and Teller, to the airport, stopping for lunch. Roberts told Teller he wanted to work for Letterman and Teller offered to write a letter of recommendation.
David Burke can be contacted at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @entguy1.