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A Little Bit Of Rock & Roll Heaven – July 29th At The Wichita Theatre [VIDEO]

Wichita Theatre Marquee (Photo by Dave Diamond)

On the heels of the well received musical, Hairspray, earlier this month, a taste of Rock & Roll Heaven comes to the Wichita Theatre Friday night, July 29th.

I wasn’t even born in 1959 when Buddy Holly’s plane crashed in a field in Northwest Iowa, but I was mildly familiar with his music from the “Golden Oldies” I’d hear on my transistor radio late at night. Then came the movie, The Buddy Holly Story, starring Gary Busey as Buddy, and I was hooked on his music.

Friday night, July 29th, finds not only Buddy’s music rocking the Wichita Theatre, but Roy Orbison’s and Elvis Presley’s music as well.

Now that’s what I call Rock & Roll Heaven!

Lubbock, Texas, born, Buddy Holly‘s musical rise was meteoric in the mid ’50s with hit after hit. While on tour in the midwest in February of 1959, a small plane carrying Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. (The Big Bopper) Richardson crashed shortly after takeoff near Mason City, Iowa. The event was later immortalized in Don McLean’s song, American Pie (The Day The Music Died), American Pie being the name of the airplane.

Buddy’s music will be performed by noted tribute artist Johnny Rogers this Friday night. Buddy’s former guitar player, Tommy Allsup says Johnny is the closest thing he’s ever seen to Buddy.

Here’s a video of Johnny as Buddy Holly, and yes, that’s Tommy Allsup, Buddy’s old guitar player on stage with him!

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As if having Buddy Holly on the Wichita Theatre stage wasn’t enough, Al Nelson will be there paying tribute to Roy Orbison, too! Surely you’ve heard of Roy Orbison! Almost a local, Roy grew up just down the road in Vernon, Texas and was a huge force in the world of AM Top 40 radio after connecting with Sam Phillips and the legendary Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee. From the late ’50s, Roy’s career continued on through the ’80s when he teamed up with Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty as part of the Travelling Wilburys. Sadly, Roy died from a heart attack on December 6th, 1988, but his music lives on.

Follow this link to see videos of Al Nelson as Roy Orbison.

And this brings us to the King. Elvis Presley. What can you say? Elvis’ contribution to what American pop and country music is today is immeasurable. His career began in the ’50s and continued into the ’70s. He played everywhere from Wichita Falls (see where in my Storied Buildings post) to Las Vegas. While we won’t have Elvis himself on the Wichita Theatre stage, we will have Kraig Parker.

Kraig is no stranger to the Wichita Theatre, and I’ve had the pleasure of watching him perform, myself. His full length shows cover all the aspects of Elvis’ career from his early tunes in the ’50s to his Vegas shows in the ’70s. It’s safe to say that everyone went home with a song in their head and a smile on their face.

Here’s Kraig performing his Elvis tribute show at the Aladdin Performing Arts Center in Las Vegas.

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When you stop and think about it, it’s amazing how much influence the early Rock & Roll from the 1950s has had on today’s country music. This should be an amazing show!

The Rock & Roll Heaven show is Friday night, July 29th, at 8:00 at the Wichita Theatre and you can reserve your seats now by calling the Theatre box office at 940.723.9037 or online at

Not near a radio? Click here to listen to Lonestar 102.3 online.

Dave D.



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