Interview with Bobby Peeples
by Colin Davies
July 12, 2005
(This interview was part of the sleeve notes of the Buddy Holly with The Three Tunes CD “Ohh! Annie: The 1956 Sessions” issued on the Rollercoaster label)
CD: I wonder if I could ask you one or two questions, going back to the 50s.
BP: Oh boy. (Laughs) That’s quite a trick.
CD: Tell me about the Venture Studio, when was it started?
BP: Golly. (Laughs). I don’t have any idea when (pause)
CD: When did it finish?
BP: (Laughs) That I don’t know either. It’s been too long ago. I really don’t have a good reference point on that. Let me see. That must have been ’56, ’57, somewhere in that vicinity. Maybe ’58 even. I guess it’s ’58 because Buddy had already done some of the stuff in Clovis when we put the studio together, so that would have been in ’58, I think. But as far as having a point of reference on when it was started and when it was ended, I don’t have any.
CD: Tell me about the studio.
BP: Well, basically it was a partnership between Larry Welborn and myself and another guy, Johnny Rackler. It was a little building in Lubbock, two blocks from the high school we all went to. It’s no longer there. It just had a big room that we put a wall in, with glass in it. We covered the walls with fiberglass, and then covered those walls with burlap curtains — that was the acoustics in the room. In the building, originally there was a TV repairs place in the front, and we rented the back of the building from the TV repairs guy. Later he went out of business and we ended up with the whole building. It didn’t last very long.
CD: And the equipment, was it fairly sophisticated?
BP: Well it was probably in that area, it was a state-of-the-art, about the same stuff, the same little mixer, the same 2-track recorder that Norman had. We had an Ampex recorder and a little Altec mixer, stuff like that. II was very homestyle. in today’s thing it would be very amateurish, but back them it was decent.
CD: And then at the end, you and Larry Welborn and Johnny Rackler, you went your separate ways?
BP: We went our separate ways. Things didn’t work out completely. We just… I had to make a living, first one thing and another.
CD: And Johnny Rackler, what happened to him?
BP: I don’t know.
CD: Aud you recorded some Buddy Holly tracks at Venture?
BP: Well, no. We never recorded anything for Buddy in that studio. Actually Buddy used it to rehearse a lot, and he recorded some stuff on his own, and we were there a couple of times when he was rehearsing. We let Buddy use it as a rehearsal hall, but we never recorded anything in the studio for Buddy.
CD: Tell me more.
BP: Yes, they actually rehearsed there, and one time he came over to do some recording. They brought a recorder that he had bought from Norman, he had an Ampex recorder in a portable ease, and they used it to record with. I was there the early part of the evening, and then I left. So some of the recordings were made on their own recorder with their own equipment.
CD: And what happened to those tapes?
BP: I don’t have any idea. I never saw them.
CD: So those were recorded by Holly — or Larry Welborn?
BP: I don’t know who was there. He had an Ampex recorder that he had bought from Norman. An older one. It was a mono in a portable case. I can’t remember the exact reason they used that instead of ours, because he wanted to do something.
CD: So that was the only time he recorded at Venture?
BP: No. Several times Buddy would come in and record and Larry would be there, but I would be gone. I never actually did any of the Buddy stuff while Buddy was in our studio.
CD: So what about tracks Iike “Rip It Up”, the ones that have always been credited as being on the ‘Bobby Peeples tape’?
BP: Those were recorded in Holly’s garage.
CD: Some people say it was in June Clark’s house, or Jerry Allison’s bedroom, or somewhere.
BP: No, it was definitely in Buddy’s garage.
CD: How many sessions were there in his garage?
BP: Two that I can remember, one with Holly, and one with Holly and Bob Harris. Bob was another high school friend who played sax. It was kind of a jamming night and we went over to Holly’s garage and I had a small recorder and we took it over and I recorded probably three or four hours of jamming-type stuff.
CD: And Jerry Allison was on those tracks too
BP: Holly and Jerry and I think Welborn was on it too.
CD: And what did you do with those tapes?
BP: I took them back to Venture Studio and played with them a little bit, maybe edited them a bit.
CD: And what happened to them?
BP: Well, the tapes that I had, after the studio went under and all that stuff, I had a large box of tapes, the ones I recorded in Holly’s garage and some that were recorded in the studio, and — in my stupidity, I guess you would call it — I gave them to Larry Welborn, and he gave them — or sold them, I don’t know what he did — they went to the Holley family after Buddy’s death.
CD: And do you regret that they finished up somewhere else?
BP: Oh gosh yes. I’m sure if I’d hung on to those tapes over the years, and kept them as a memento, and then released them, or made some kind of a deal. I’m sure today they’re worth a lot of money.
CD: Do you think Norman did a good job with them?
SP: I didn’t think Norman did it, I didn’t know who did it. I was under the impression that it was done in New York.
CD: No, some of the very last Holly recordings were overdubbed in New York, but the ones we always call the ‘Bobby Peeples tape’ were overdubbed by Norman with the Fireballs. You weren’t involved at all?
BP: No, they were totally out of my hands.
CD: John Ingman, whom I think you met some years ago, thinks there may still be some tapes lying around in Clovis, Is it conceivable that we could unearth these?
BP: Well, anything’s conceivable. What I would think is that, after Norman died and Vi went through and cleared the studio, well there might be some. I mean, it’s entirely possible that there are people wandering around who have some tapes in their closet. Like I said, it was a bunch of mish-mash of tapes. I do know there was some tapes of Waylon Jennings in his early days that was in the same era.
CD: So Waylon material recorded in the Venture Studio?
BP: Right. I did some of the stuff for Waylon and like I said, several times Buddy would come in and record and Larry would be there but I would be gone. I never actually did any of the Buddy stuff while Buddy was in our studio.
CD: There have been rumours that Buddy Holly recorded in your studio with other people. For example, with Bob Harris on sax.
BP: No. With Bob Harris was in Holly’s garage.
CD: And Holly recorded with Don Webb? Don Webb of “Little Bitty Baby.”
BP: (Laughing): Yeah, we recorded a lot of stuff with Don in the studio. He kept trying to make a record.
CD: And Don recorded with Holly?
BP: I’m not sure of that. It’s been a long time.
CD: Another name — Tommy Overstreet?
BP: Oh yeah — a very talented young man.
CD: And he recorded with you?
CD: With Holly?
BP: No, Overstreet did his stuff on his own.
CD: There’s a box of tape with “Tommy Overstreet” on that I think finished up in Norman’s studio. So that might have been part of the tapes that were passed on?
BP: Probably yes.
CD: There another person, Angie Hodges. She did “Oh Baby Mine”. Does that ring any bells at all? Somebody found a tape in Norman’s studio that looked similar to the Tommy Overstreet tape.
BP: I don’t remember that. Not at all.
CD: How did you know Niki Sullivan? Because you were the one who introduced him to Holly, weren’t you?
BP: Niki and I were high school friends and we ran around together. Just good friends
CD: Did you know Norman Petty?
BP: I met Norman only one time. Actually in the very early days. We went over to… I had a brand new car at the time and we went to Clovis, New Mexico and that was the night “That’ll be the Day” was recorded.
CD: So you were there! Were you singing back-up or anything?
BP: No, I was just there. I provided a chauffeur service so to speak. Larry Welborn, myself, Niki were all in my car, and Buddy and I guess Jerry Allison. I don’t think Joe B. was in the group. Larry played bass.
CD: So you were present at the session?
BP: Yeah, but I had to leave. Of course I was the only one that had a real job and I think I left there at about one-thirty, two o’clock in the morning and I headed back to Lubbock.
CD: There are different stories as to whether they spent a long time rehearsing “That’ll” or whether it was just kind of a demo.
BP: It was kind of a demo and it was just done bam! and that was it.
CD: It was said, I think by Niki, that you recorded a Holly concert.
BP: Well, we recorded something at a small dance one time — it was kind of a teen hop type of thing. But that’s the only one. That was in that group of tapes that Larry Welborn gave to the Holley family that went on where they went.
CD: Any other memories of working with Holly?
BP: Lots of memories. Buddy and I were friends. I hung out with him mostly during performances. I knew him casually in high school.
CD: Because of the ‘Bobby Peeples tape’, you’ve become something of a legend among Holly fans. For a long time no one knew where you were.
BP: Everyone says they couldn’t find me but I was never missing. I was always in the Dallas/Fort Worth area — moved from Lubbock to here — and was listed in the telephone directory.
CD: And it was said you could out-drive any police car that ever chased you?
BP: Oh that’s BS (laughing). All of the guys in those days were sort of hotrodders. We had drag races and I went to the drag races. But we did not run police cars — I was never that brave.
CD: And Iater you worked with Major Bill Smith?
BP: Yes I did. When I came to Fort Worth I worked in the Cliff Herring Studio there with Bob Sullivan who worked with Major Bill. Bill was always bringing these people in who were going to be a star — people like Bruce Channel and Paul and Paula.
CD: And then you moved into satellite TV?
BP: From the time I left Cliff Herring, I went to work for a company that was a distributor for recording studio equipment, for three or four years. Then I went to work for a company called PAMS, which is the big jingle producer in Dallas, as a technician and then as a recording engineer. I produced jingles for radio stations across the country for several years. Later I had a chance to work as an independent producer/engineer for another company — “Goodnight Audio” — for several years.
CD: Did any hits come out of that?
BP: Oh heck no. And then one of my clients hired me away to manage a company that sold broadcast equipment for stations and from there the satellite industry started to bloom and I ventured into my own business and I’ve been doing that ever since. Since 1982.
CD: You’re not thinking of retiring?
BP: No, I’m 68 and I can’t afford to retire.
CD: I know it’s 50 years ago, but we still play the Holly stuff all the time, and he’s still big here and over in Europe.
BP: When we were in Europe we saw the Buddy Holly musical. It left a bit to be desired on the honesty side (Laughing). It was a lot of story. Everything wasn’t exactly the way it was. But it was a great show. Just like the movie it left a bit…
CD: With the mountain behind Lubbock…
BP: That’s my favourite.
CD: Well, Bobby, as I said, you’re a legend and I’ve known your name for many years, and I’m delighted to be talking to you.
BP: Thank you. Appreciate it.