MASON CITY | Tommy Allsup, guitarist and rock 'n' roll pioneer, has died.

The Lubbock (Texas) Avalanche-Journal reported Wednesday that Allsup, 85, had died.

Allsup gained fame in the early days of rock 'n' roll as he toured with another Lubbock musician, Buddy Holly.

Allsup was performing with Holly on the ill-fated Winter Dance Party tour that took Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson to the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake on Feb. 3, 1959.

At the end of the night Holly, Valens, Richardson and pilot Roger Peterson took off from Mason City Municipal Airport bound for Fargo, North Dakota, the next stop on the tour. Their plane crashed in a field north of Clear Lake. All aboard were killed.

Allsup, who according to popular legend lost a coin flip for a seat aboard the flight, didn't learn of their deaths until the Winter Dance Party tour bus pulled into Fargo.

Allsup has been a regular at the Surf's annual Winter Dance Party weekend. He was scheduled to perform at this year's event, which runs Feb. 1-4.

"With the loss of Tommy comes the end of an era. He was the last remaining band mate of Buddy Holly who played on Buddy's last tour," said Jeff Nicholas, president of the Surf board of directors. "Tommy was a friend and supporter of the Surf Ballroom and the Winter Dance Party.

"He will very much be missed and remembered fondly by the entire Surf family."

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