Legendary rockabilly and Western swing guitarist Tommy Allsup is currently in the Intensive Care Unit according to his son and fellow musician Austin Allsup, and the family is requesting prayers for the 85-year-old.
The guitar playing native of Oklahoma is famous for losing a coin flip to Ritchie Valens and giving his seat up on the fateful plane that took the lives of Buddy Holly, Valens, and The Big Bopper in 1959, also known as “The Day The Music Died.” Tommy had met Buddy Holly in 1958 in Clovis, New Mexico and became the lead guitarist for The Crickets. At the time of the crash, Buddy Holly was also touring with Waylon Jennings in his band, who also gave up his seat in the plane.
Tommy Allsup later became a producer and A&R man for Liberty Records, producing albums from Willie Nelson, Tex Williams, Billy Mize, and others. Allsup also produced the first United Artist Records release for Ray Benson’s resurgent Western Swing group Asleep at The Wheel in 1972, and the very last LP of Bob Wills in 1973.
As a session musician, Tommy Allsup has performed on over 6,500 recordings, and is a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.