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From a tiny studio in Clovis, a big sound emerges

The building that sits at 1313 W. Seventh St. in Clovis is old and shows its age. At a glance, it’s difficult to fathom that rock ‘n’ roll history was made in the tiny structure because it now sits silent.

But the list of names who passed through the doors of the Norman Petty Studios — the birthplace of “The Clovis Sound” — reads like a who’s who of 1950s and 1960s pop rock.

The Fireballs recorded their first hits and the No. 1 song of 1963, “Sugar Shack,” there.

The String-a-Longs recorded at the studio, as did Tiny Morrie. Roy Orbison recorded his first hit, “Oobie Doobie,” there. Buddy Knox recorded “Party Doll” at the studio. Waylon Jennings even cut some records there.

But the musician who put the studio on the map was Buddy Holly, who was from Lubbock, Texas, just 100 miles east.

They all came to record with the studio’s owner, Norman Petty.

“Norman was the reason these artists sought out the studio,” says Kenneth Broad, the caretaker of the studios building. “His musicality was like no other and he was blessed with it.”

Travis Holley, Buddy Holly’s older brother, says he has his own story about the Norman Petty Studios.

He says he tiled the echo chamber in the studio’s attic, which gave Holly his full, reverberating sound.

Holley, whose last name is the given name of the brothers, says he helped encourage his younger brother to get into music.

“He wasn’t interested until he was 13 or 14 years old,” he recalls.