Photographer shares memories of Buddy Holly photo

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Dick Cole of Waterloo displays the photo he took of Buddy Holly in 1958, a year before the singer's untimely death. (Press photo by Shelia Tomkins)

By Shelia Tomkins

Dick Cole of Waterloo was in Guttenberg recently to promote an upcoming dance at Lakeside Ballroom and stopped at The Guttenberg Press to present a photograph he took of legendary rock 'n' roller Buddy Holly.

Feb. 3 marked the 57th anniversary of Holly's tragic death in a 1959 airplane crash following a show at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake.  

In 1958 Cole was a teenager and staff photographer for the Waterloo Courier when Buddy Holly and the Crickets played at Electric Park Ballroom in Waterloo. Cole and others helped unload equipment for the show, and when Holly sat on a freezer in the kitchen to tune his guitar, Cole snapped the iconic photo.

Holly's widow, Maria Elena Holly, later said that  the shot was her favorite photo of her late husband. The picture received wide exposure in magazines, books and records in the years since Holly's death. Cole said he has received requests for copies of it from around the world.

Cole went on to a lifelong career in photography. In 2011 he was invited to attend Buddy Holly's star ceremony on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Cole's famous photograph was displayed at a party marking the 75th anniversary of the singer's birth.

Cole was inducted into the Iowa Rock 'n' Roll Music Association Hall of Fame in 2006. He is now an active member of Mid-America Music Association, a group that is co-sponsoring the Rock 'n' Roll on the River show in Guttenberg on Saturday, April 9.

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