On January 23rd, 1959 Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, The Big Bopper and Dion and the Belmonts started their 24 date “Winter Dance Party” Tour in Milwaukee, Wisconsin at The Eagles Ballroom. The show “was crazy, daddy,” proclaimed the Sentinel in a review of the show. “Nearly 6,000 young people turned out to” rock, and “If you haven’t heard them, you haven’t lived, man.” A few weeks later, all of the headlining acts for the “Winter Dance Party” died in a plain crash in a snowy Iowa cornfield. A memorial to Mr. Holly and the other musicians that toured with him is now placed in the upper level of The Rave and includes photos, concert fliers and the original review from the Milwaukee Sentinel.
Around the time of Holly’s death strange sightings started to be reported at the Eagles Ballroom. Musicians that played shows there said they would see what looked like a man watching their sound checks, and creeping in and out of the shadows of the maze like venue. Musicians say another ghost seems to reside in the buildings old basement pool and boiler room, which remains locked at all times. Outside the door to the pool room are messages warning about the paranormal resident that lives inside. “All the rock stars that have performed here have seen a ghost” said the Raves ex art director Rob Miller. A lot of musicians and curious ghost hunters like to document their exploration of The Rave.
Whether or not the place is really haunted is up for debate, but I like to think that Holly choose to chill right here in Wisconsin, checking out fresh music acts that roll through town. Oh, and Jeffery Dahmer killed some folks in The Ambassador Hotel right across the street from The Rave, if Buddy Holly’s ghost isn’t intriguing enough.