Larry Welborn, Texoma music legend, dies at 83

Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 5:33 PM CDT
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DURANT, Okla. (KXII) - The Texoma music community is mourning the loss of a giant who played with Buddy Holly, opened for Elvis, and counted one Waylon Jennings among his students.

“He’s one of the reasons why music is what it is now, he was one of the pioneers of rock and roll music,” Friend of Larry Welborn Jayson Starkey said.

In 1955, Larry Welborn helped create the Buddy, Bob, and Larry trio.

“I remember Buddy Holly sitting on his knee and him singing, you ain’t nothing but a hound dog,” Larry’s Brother David Welborn said.

The group opened for Elvis and toured on the Louisiana Hayride, where they then recorded “That’ll Be The Day,” a song Welborn didn’t get any money from until three years ago.

“He made me slow down, he made me pay attention, when I first started playing with him- along with him, I was very green and I played a lot and he made me just slow down and pick my spots and listen while he played,” Starkey said.

Larry taught many how to become a musician.

“Larry was the kind of person that could take five of the best musicians in the world and make an incredible band out of them but he could also take five of the worst musicians that you could imagine and put them together and make them sound like a pretty good band,” David said.

Among his students, Waylon Jennings.

“He was an amazing musician, I play drums and he taught me how to play, and he taught me how to be a musician that played the drums and not be just a drummer, and that’s a big difference,” Larry’s Nephew Sean Welborn said.

Larry went on to join the Army, then moved home to Oklahoma, but the music never stopped along the way.

“He loved everybody and loved what he did,” Starkey said.

Larry passed away in his sleep Sunday morning, he was 83.

Larry told his family he doesn’t want flowers for his funeral, but instead for people to donate to the Wounded Warrior Project.

“Everybody knows how proud I was of Larry you can see the on the accolades that he has on the wall over there and he is my hero,” David said.

Larry’s funeral will be Saturday at 3 p.m. at Country Music Place, his family says all are welcome.

Larry also contributed to rock and roll and played an important part in West Texas music. Dr. Curtis Peoples is the Archivist for the Southwest Music Archive at Texas Tech University and gave News 12 an exclusive statement on the passing of Larry Welborn:

Larry Welborn was an important figure in the early days of West Texas rock and roll, particularly in Lubbock, Texas. Larry was a guitar player who started playing at eight years old. When Buddy Holly and Bob Montgomery formed a duo, they sought out Larry to join with them to play upright bass. Beginning in 1955, the “Buddy, Bob & Larry” trio they played fairs, clubs, skating rinks, and any place they could showcase their new western bop sound. Larry recorded with Buddy Holly and most notably the bass guitar on “That’ll Be the Day.” In recognition of the recording, Paul McCartney presented a gold record of the song to Larry in 1986.

When Buddy & Bob split, Larry switched back to guitar and formed the Four Teens, which included Joe B. Mauldin, Terry Welborn, and Brownie Higgs. The group became very popular in the Lubbock area & released some recordings that did well for them too including “Go Little Go Cat” and “Spark Plug”.

Welborn continued to do session work at Norman Petty Studios in Clovis, joined and briefly with The Crickets in the 60′s. He went on to play guitar with Waylon Jennings, and backed up many other country and western stars. His music career spanned eight decades and his importance to the history of West Texas music cannot be understated. His passing was indeed a sad day for the music world, but his music lives on through recordings and his legacy will be preserved.

Dr. Curtis Peoples is the Archivist for the Southwest Music Archive at Texas Tech University.

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