Clear Lake, Iowa: Surf Ballroom - Buddy Holly's Last Gig

Venue of the last performance of rockers Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper on Feb. 2, 1959, before their plane crashed nearby. The ballroom is preserved as it looked in 1959.

Surf Ballroom and Museum

460 N. Shore Drive, Clear Lake, IA
Surf Ballroom and Museum. At the corner of Buddy Holly Place and N. Shore Drive.
M-F 8 am - 4 pm. Closed Su. (Call to verify)
Donation suggested.
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Visitor Tips and News About Surf Ballroom - Buddy Holly's Last Gig

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Surf Ballroom pay phone booth. Surf Ballroom & Museum

I guess you could call it the last place music lived. Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper had their last concert in the Surf Ballroom before their fatal plane crash in 1959, and the venue has maintained its 50s look and feel partially as a museum to the late rock 'n' rollers and partially as a unique venue for modern acts.

The telephone booth where Holly and Valens made their last phone calls has also been preserved, and documentary photos and autographed band shots line most of the lobby and bar walls. The spacious, vaulted main ballroom is still framed by vintage diner-style booths.

The Surf is a locket of American music history cared for by a small American town.

[Laurel Hechanova, 08/27/2011]
Surf Ballroom - Buddy Holly Crash Site

When in Clear Lake be sure to check out the Surf Ballroom where Buddy Holly played for the last time. It's free, a donation is suggested -- I gave them my lucky five dollar bill. It's like stepping back in time. I highly recommend you see this as part of your trip.

[Debbie Clark, 12/16/2010]
Surf Ballroom

A must visit for any music fan. Admission to the self-guided museum is free, but donations are requested. What we liked most was how the management has kept the 1950s style architecture and interior design (be sure to check out the bathrooms!). There is also a great gift shop.

[Frank Abbott, 07/18/2010]
Interior of the Surf Ballroom. Surf Ballroom - Buddy Holly's Last Gig

Looking for good directions and a good breakfast? Stop at Dad's Pump House on Main Street. It is a throwback, and all the locals are there. Ask for Dad and he will give great directions to the Crash Site.

In addition, the Surf Ballroom is still operating. Doobie Bros. played 5/17/2007. The place is open for free, self-guided tours. There are many autographed pictures of bands that performed, and every Feb 2nd they have a weekend sock hop to commemorate the sad event.

[Greg, 05/29/2007]

Wonder if those folding metal chairs are originals?

Monument at the Surf ballroom to plane crash victims. Surf Ballroom

The Surf Ballroom is the site of the last performance of rock legends Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper on Feb. 2, 1959. They were killed shortly after in a plane crash just outside Clear Lake. The Surf Ballroom has been maintained and restored to its 1959 appearance, with many features connected to Holly, such as the pay phone where he and Valens made their last calls.

[Dan Churney, 05/25/2006]

A monument "in memory of Rock 'N Roll Legends" stands outside the Surf Ballroom. The memorial also lists the pilot killed -- Roger Peterson.

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