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Gary Busey

Gary Busey performs Saturday night at the Winter Dance Party.

CLEAR LAKE — At times funny, philosophical and thoughtful, Gary Busey, star of the Oscar-nominated film “The Buddy Holly Story,” took questions for more than an hour following the screening of the film Saturday at the Lake Theater in Clear Lake.

“I’m really happy to hear today that you had a heat wave of 7 degrees,” Busey joked after being welcomed with a standing ovation by the sell-out crowd.

Busey delighted the crowd with tidbits about the making of the 1978 film.

He said none of the scenes took more than one take. It took three permanent waves and two dye jobs to get Busey’s straight brown hair to resemble Holly’s curly locks.

“I looked in the mirror and I couldn’t find Gary Busey,” he said.

Busey said he channeled Holly during the filming.

“I was singing, but Buddy Holly was singing through me,” Busey said.

This is Busey’s first trip to the Surf Ballroom.

“I have never been to Iowa, but I have now. The people here are so hospitable and loving.”

At times he broke into choruses of “True Love Ways” and “That’ll Be the Day.”

When asked if he had ever met Maria Elena Holly, he told a story about singing “True Love Ways” at the movie’s premiere in Dallas in 1978.

Holly’s widow ran from the room, Busey said.

“You have brought Buddy back to me,” he said Maria Elena told him.

Busey, 68, said Holly was one of his favorite singers as a teenager.

“I went to the crash site today (Saturday) and I said a prayer,” Busey said.

Busey’s appearance at the movie theater was delayed until after the film because his sound check at the Surf ran long.

He promised the crowd a night full of rock ’n’ roll Saturday night.

“Buddy will be there through me,” he said.


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