Historic marker honors Petty

By Jean Verlich: CNJ news editor

Clovis’ music history is being cast in stone with a scenic historic marker by the state honoring Norman Petty, according to state and local officials.

The placard will be unveiled in a ceremony in front of the Norman Petty Studios at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 6 to kick off the Clovis Music Festival.

The 70-word text on the brown marker will describe how “Petty made rock ’n’ roll history recording Buddy Holly and the Crickets’ ‘That’ll Be the Day.”

Buddy Holly’s older brother, Travis Holley, and Vi Petty’s cousin, Georgiana Hagen, who was a singer in the Norman Petty Trio, are slated to attend the ceremony, according to Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce marketing director Liz Eisenbraun.

“We are pretty excited about that,” Eisenbraun said about the historic marker.

She said the official recognition of the Petty Studios will “absolutely” have a positive impact on tourism.

“It is the one thing that we have that is known worldwide,” Eisenbraun said.

The marker came about as a result of the Petty Studios’ owners Kenneth and Shirley Broad winning a Heritage Preservation Award from the New Mexico Cultural Properties Review Committee in May for preserving the studio.

The Cultural Properties Review Committee approved the language for the marker, which will be added to the state’s 550 historic markers.

It is the first completed marker in the program’s 71-year history to recognize a musician and the only one to commemorate a cultural contribution by the generations that followed World War II, a New Mexico Historic Preservation Division release said.

Sign text

At thirteen, Norman began cutting records in his father’s filling station. With money earned from the Norman Petty Trio’s “Mood Indigo,” Petty converted a family grocery store next door into a modern recording studio where he experimented with echo and microphone settings. In 1957, Petty made rock ’n’ roll history recording Buddy Holly and the Crickets’ “That’ll Be the Day.” The sound influenced a generation, and his techniques are still used today.