The Duluth Armory was constructed in 1915 to serve as a training facility to the Minnesota National Guard and Naval Militia. The building became the linchpin in creating Duluth’s music and entertainment notoriety, hosting performances by some of the most influential and successful musicians in American culture.
This week in Duluth history marks 56 years since a musical legend performed at the Armory. Buddy Holly and The Crickets attracted a sell-out audience on January 30, 1959 for their Winter Dance Party Tour. Only three days later on February 3, Holly along with Ritchie Valens, J.P. Richardson “The Big Bopper”, and pilot Roger Peterson died after their plane crashed into a cornfield in Iowa just a few minutes after takeoff. This day would be coined “The Day Music Died.”
It later became known that Duluth’s own Robert Zimmerman – who later changed his name to Bob Dylan – was in the audience at the Duluth Armory. Only 17 at the time, the performance made an impact on his later career, mentioning Holly’s influence during his 1998 acceptance speech for Album of the Year.