Saturday, October 22, 2011

Buddy Holly's apartment is for sale!!


Man, if I had any money I would be psychotically dangerous.

I'm reading a book about Buddy Holly, and it mentioned that he and his wife Maria lived at 11 Fifth Avenue, apartment 4H, from the fall of 1958 through early 1959, when Buddy was killed in a plane crash while on tour. He recorded several songs here on an old Ampex tape recorder, which have been released in various forms over the years.


So like any normal person would do, I Googled "11 Fifth Avenue 4H" to see what would come up, and--holy crap--it's for sale!

Here's the listing from Brown Harris Stevens. It doesn't mention Buddy Holly, or even that it's apartment 4H. (It came up on a multiple listings site, StreetEasy, as 4H.)


I feel like I need to run out and alert someone. Everyone else in the Tarpley household is strangely uninterested. Doesn't anyone else find this completely cool??

This is like when I told my dermatologist how cool it was that her office was located in the building where Bill Haley and the Comets recorded "Rock Around the Clock" in 1954, and she looked at me like I was insane.

28 comments:

  1. Hi. the most shocking thing to me is that the monthly rent was reported to be 1,100.00 in 1958! Evidently, that is more than $6,800 in 2011 dollars.

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  2. I read that too, and it's not even remotely possible. $110 is more likely. Greenwich Village in 1958 was bohemian and not particularly expensive. And even though the Breevort was a new "luxury" building, Buddy & Maria's apartment was only a 1BR. Here's a You Tube video of GV in the '50s for context. http://youtu.be/X2suSdDccxo

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    1. I read Waylon Jennings autobiography, who was a close friend of Buddy's, and played bass on the Winter Dance Party tour. Waylon stayed with Buddy and his wife in the 4H apartment before setting out for the tour. In his book, Waylon says that Buddy was paying $400.00 a month to live in Greenwich Village.

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  3. 11 Fifth was not bohemian, was East Village, and Buddy's rent was $1,000.

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  4. I automatically like anyone who liked the Cleftones ("Heart & Soul"), but I still disagree about the $1,000 rent--which has been widely reported but is still likely wrong.

    I need to make a trip down to the NY Public Library to check out microfilm archives of Village Voice real estate classifieds from 1958. (Yes, I'm that anal.)

    In the meantime, my rationale for arguing that $1,000 is way too high is based on a few things:

    1. A current 2BR in the Brevoort rents for $6K; studios go for $3K. A 1BR like Buddy's would go for somewhere in-between. Based on inflation data, $5K in 2012 is equivalent to $635 in 1958. Manhattan rents have risen faster than inflation over the past 50 years--GV definitely included--which means that a Brevoort 1BR that rents for $5K today would probably have gone for well less than $635 in 1958--maybe half that or less.

    2. An article in NY Magazine in 1968 (couldn't find anything earlier) noted that prime 3BR apartments on Fifth and Park Aves on the UES were going for "as much as $1,500 to $2,000 a month," requiring an annual salary of $125K. "To live along lower Fifth Avenue or from 9th to 13th Streets between University and 6th Avenue" (Buddy's hood) would require about $60K salary for the same size digs. In other words, a luxury 3BR in Buddy's neighborhood would presumably go for $750-$1K/month in 1968--10 years after Buddy lived there in a 1BR apartment. I'm guessing $350 in 1968, and maybe $250 in 1958.

    3. While The Brevoort was a 2-year-old luxury building when Buddy lived there, GV in 1958 was in fact Bohemian, not unlike SoHo a generation later. The Brevoort and its neighbors were the nicest of a hip but not yet stratospherically priced neighborhood.

    4. Anecdotal Buddy Holly trivia is often wrong. For example, his Brevoort apartment is sometimes listed as #3B and frequently referred to as a 2-bedroom (4H is a 1BR, 3B is a studio, so a lot of people are wrong no matter how you look at it). The address of the Pythian recording studio where he recorded "True Love Ways" is often misstated in liner notes (correct address is 135 W 70 St). So there's a lot of misinformation floating around and then repeated as fact by others. I have a strong feeling that is the case with the $1,000/month apartment rumor.

    In short, I'm guessing Buddy and Maria paid ~$250/month for their luxury digs, which was still a lot in 1958. I'm anxious to solve this mystery once and for all and hope to do so...because it's important to the survival of the human race.

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  5. So guess what? I stopped by the library this morning. Rents in GV in Aug 1958, according to Village Voice, ranged from ~$100 for studios to--the most expensive listing--$350 for a "beautiful 2BR penthouse apartment" with a terrace on lower Fifth Avenue (the Brevoort?) for $350. If Buddy & Maria paid $1K for a 1BR on a low floor they got royally ripped off. I'm declaring this myth DEBUNKED.

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    1. Wow ! I'm so impressed that his apartment is still here. Sadly, he's gone. We hsve lost so many performers. Buddy Holly was the greatest. I've recently became a fan. Some 75 years too late. This is partially due to being born in 1959. Don't get me wrong, I had heard the songs. I just didn't know he had wrote and had sang them first. I wish he had gotten on that cold bus.

      His music didn't die that day. It lives on through people like us. Thank God, we have that.

      A plaque needs to be placed on that building, honoring him. It's been too long already. Its shameful.

      Thank you for your info. It was very interesting.

      Nancy

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    1. This info is very valuable! Thank you for taking the time to do it. I can see now why the WDP tour's money was so enticing -- it was more than half a year's rent!

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  7. Todd, just came across your blog while googling Buddy's NYC apartment after listening to "Learning the Game." Thanks for sharing the picture of the apartment -- and I wanted to tell you how impressed I am by your detail-driven library research!

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  8. Todd you are awesome for providing all that info.
    I was just in NY and never thought of trying to find Buddy Holly' old apt. What about the other address of the Pythian recording studio? What is there today?

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  9. Pythian (Decca) recording studio, 135 W 70th St, is now residential condos. Interior was gutted for condo conversion, so the auditorium that served as the recording studio no longer exists. But the exterior of the building, including the entrance, is largely unchanged. It is a very cool building--both the original elements and the conversion. BTW, Bill Haley and his Comets recorded "Rock Around the Clock" there a few years before Buddy's sessions.

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    1. How about the old doo wop groups of the 50s? Any
      NY sites where they recorded, performed or even lived?

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  10. Gino, I'll have to look into that. Dion was my favorite doo-wop guy--so obviously Belmont Avenue in the Bronx comes to mind. Maybe I'll do a little research and create a "NYC Map of 1950s Music" when I get a chance.

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    1. Hi Todd,

      In 1958,Dion and the Belmonts recorded 'I Wonder Why' at the Bell Sound Studios at 237 West 54th Street. I guess Buddy Holly recorded there as well. What is there today? I look forward to your NYC Map of 50s music.....Maybe we can start our own tour bus!

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    2. Per Google Maps the old facade is still there but it's a boarded-up construction site and there's a sign that says "Development Site Available -- Joint Venture/For Sale."

      Buddy Holly recorded "Rave On" there in Jan '58. Del Shannon recorded "Runaway" there in '60; apparently he sang it flat and the engineers had to speed up his vocal recording by 50% to bring him into key.

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    3. Hey Todd!! Out of curiosity what price did Buddys old apt eventually sell for?

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    4. $915,000. A bargain. http://streeteasy.com/closing/2023111

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  11. Hi Todd - I found your article whilst trying to track down Buddys apartment online ahead of an impending trip to NYC. I've travelled there several times from here in Scotland before but could never identify the address with my wifes patience running thin. She married Buddy when she married me :-)

    I was also trying to track down the Pythian - so two birds, one stone right here. Thank you. Not Fade Away. Damian Bray, Fife, Scotland.

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    1. I have introduced both my son and daughter ( 22 and 18, respectively) to Buddy Holly's music, and they love it!!. They tell me it's not like anything they hear today.

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  12. Here's a great YouTube video of GV in 1960, about 18 months after Buddy lived here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axkC9ifSWys
    (The one I posted above is no longer available.)

    Many of the scenes are within a few blocks of Buddy's apartment, which was a block north of the Washington Square arch.

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  14. Hi. I know this is an old thread, but thanks very much for your information and discussion.
    As a huge Buddy Holly fan from England, Ive visited Lubbock and also New York. I stood on the pavement (sidewalk to you!) late at night and gazed up at that balcony. I could easily imagine hearing a guitar strumming out 'learning the game' and 'love is strange'. I have always saif that if i win the lottery, im buying a place in Greenwich Village. I would buy that apartment!

    Thanks. David Uk

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  15. Thanks, Todd. I enjoyed this very much. Being a big Holly fan and listening his music for 3 decades it was very cool finally to see the actual apartment where the iconic home recordings were made. One highlight to me has been meeting up with the wife of the late Bob Montgomery who was a close friend of Holly and worked with him early in his career. It was nice to hear her memories. There aren't too many people anymore left that had the first hand experience with Buddy Holly.

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    1. I hear you, Marko. I saw Dion in concert for the first time earlier this year and felt the same way--blessed to be in the presence of a Buddy Holly contemporary...one of the last links to that short but magical era of early rock'n'roll.

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