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November 24

Tommy Allsup: A Guitar Master Who Made Epic Country Melody

Do you still remember who Tommy Allsup is? He is a country guitarist widely known for losing a simple coin toss. At that time, he was on tour with rock n’ roll artists J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, Buddy Holly, and Ritchie Valens. This coin toss that he lost ended up saving his life after it kept him off the plane he was supposed to board. The plane crashed and killed Valens, Holly, along with the Big Bopper. The tragic incident is remembered today as “The Day the Music Died.”

Today we recall some of the biggest contributions of the great guitarist Tommy Allsup back when he was still alive.

He was born on November 11, 2017, in Owasso, Oklahoma. He was an amazing musician and producer, who started his career in 1949. In the span of his career, he worked with topnotch entertainers like His Texas Playboys, Buddy Holly, and Bob Wills. He then moved to Los Angeles to continue his career. There, he performed with local bands and even committed to session work. He also worked on a songwriting credit, Guitar Twist, or otherwise called, Driving Guitars, for The Ventures.

Aside from Los Angeles, Allsup also traveled back to his hometown, then to Nashville to work on various music projects. He collaborated with producer Willie Nelson, as well as Ronnie Smith and Roy Orbison in Odessa. Then, he did another session work in Nashville, where he also produced 24 Great Hits by Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys.

Among the artists he’s performed with are Roy Orbison, Willie Nelson, Bob Wills, and Merle Haggard. Tommy Allsup went on to become the producer for two albums, Asleep at the Wheel, before he started a club called Tommy’s Heads Up Saloon in 1979. The club was based in Fort Worth.

He passed away on January 11, 2017, due to complications that followed after undergoing an operation for his hernia. He was 85 years old, and he was confined in a hospital in Springfield, Missouri.

Tommy Allsup’s legacy as a great musician and a highly talented producer is definitely an irreplaceable gift that all country music lovers will always consider as among the finest that they have had the privilege to witness and listen to.


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Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, guitarist, Tommy Allsup


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