MEDIA The Buddy System

Life at Dallas’s first rock magazine wasn’t just a job - it was an attitude.


“Guide,11 before the Dallas Observer, there was Buddy Magazine. The “Original Texas Music Magazine” served as a kind of regional Rolling Stone, covering music, clubs, and concerts in North Texas. In its heyday, the Seventies, it was read by just about every rock ’n’ roller in Dallas/Fort Worth.

From 1976 to 1982 1 served as the editor of Buddy, hanging out in every nightclub, concert hall, and backstage party to be found. I dutifully reported on rock happenings each month for the masses who would pick up their copies of the magazine at Peaches Records and Tapes, Record Town, or Sound Warehouse. How a good Baptist kid from Baylor University ended up working for the notorious underground publisher Stoney Burns is just one more story in the naked city. This one is mine.

Like most children of the Sixties, I was still upset that I wasn’t at Woodstock. I had seen the movie, but 1 longed to have been there, at the center of rock ’n’ roll, hobnobbing with the stars. There wasn’t much of a chance of this happening in Waco, Texas, in 1974, so I headed up to Dallas, hoping to gain a position with a small music magazine that I had picked up at a Santana concert there.

Buddy Magazine was named after Buddy Holly, the first rock ’n’ roll star from Texas. Its publisher, Stoney Burns, had been an infamous member of the hippie community in Lee Park and Oak Lawn in the late Sixties, producing such underground classic newspapers as Dallas Notes and The Iconoclast. These publications were re-lentless in their lampooning of Dallas city leaders, calls to get out of Vietnam, and liberal use of the “F word.” These qualities did not endear Stoney to the powers that ran Big D at the time, and he continually found himself getting arrested and beaten up by the cops. After hitting a policeman’s knee with his groin at the notorious “Lee Park massacre,” Stoney decided it was time for a change of scenery.

Rock V roll and the youth movement were closely aligned at the time, and both Notes and The Iconoclast carried record reviews and concert listings. Stoney had always enjoyed that part of the business most, so he started a magazine devoted solely to music. Thus Buddy was born.

“Buddy Holly and LSD had the biggest influences on my life,” Stoney would later remark, because it was a Buddy Holly record that was his first introduction to rock ’n’ roll. (I never heard about his first LSD experience, and I never asked.) His first issue was printed in October of 1972 and featured Seals and Croft on the cover; Stoney delivered the new magazine to area record stores and rock clubs in his Volkswagen. That first issue contained a concert calendar, a listing of live music in Metroplex clubs, and a preview of the Seals and Croft concert. It was an immediate hit.

In September of 1976, I sold a black-and-white photo of Jerry Jeff Walker in concert to Buddy for the princely sum of $5. When I picked up my check, I asked if there were any openings. Stoney wanted to know if I could sell advertising, and when I said yes, he told me to start work the next day.

I was named as the editor, although I did no “editing” until after I had been there for three years. Stoney was liberal with titles; he just never gave you the duties that went with them. If you wanted to be an associate publisher, he made you one, but you still sold advertising. That was the bottom line; you could write as many stories and go to as many concerts as you liked as long as you sold advertising. For an eager young writer, it was the opportunity of a lifetime.

I hit the trail and began selling ads to rock ’n’ roll nightclubs, record companies, and concert promoters. Record companies in the mid-Seventies had tons of money in their promotional accounts, and they were glad to spend it. As the only music publication in Texas at the time, we got their entire print budgets. It was easy money while it lasted.

Back in 1976, ’77, and ’78, scores of nightclubs featured live rock ’n’ roll bands playing cover versions of Led Zeppelin, Peter Frampton, and Humble Pie. Clubs like the legendary Mother Blues, The Binary Star, Sneaky Pete’s, and Faces were regular advertisers in Ruddy, touting local acts like Phren-Z, Full Force, Shotgun, and Maple.

We were on a roll. It was amazing that a group of lazy hippies like us could make so much money by being so disorganized. Stoney deserved a lot of the credit-he really knew how to hold down costs. Our typesetting equipment had been purchased second-hand from a now-defunct Jesus-freak cult when it stopped publishing its newsletter (whenever our equipment was on the fritz, we joked that it needed to be faith healed). Office furniture was picked up at various yard sales (my chair was missing an arm), and the magazine was pasted up by a member of Bubbles and the Bucks and delivered by a country-western drummer who owned a van.

Journalistically, we filled the gap between the daily newspapers and the underground press; our stories were written with a decidedly gonzo flair and no attempt to tone down the blue language that punctuates the typical rock star’s vocabulary. Publishing uncensored conversation won us readers, and landed us in trouble, as did the occasional uncensored photograph, usually-but not always-of groupies baring their breasts at concerts. When Stoney attended a press party at the now-defunct Playboy Club of Dallas for the premiere of porn king Russ Meyer’s new film, Beneath the Valley of the Ultra Vixens, X-rated starlet Kitten Nativi-dad was on hand. Midway through the press conference, Miss Natividad stood up, unzipped her top, and exhibited one size 42D breast. The other photographers were slack-jawed at this unabashed display of movie promotion, but Stoney quickly reeled off several shots-which ran in the next issue of Buddy. We fielded a few calls from parents upset at the pictures in the magazine that little Johnny had picked up at Sound Warehouse that month, but our standard reply to all criticism was, “We print whatever we want and we don’t caret” And we didn’t.

Most of working at Buddy was an attitude. We were young, smart, and bulletproof. When the first Texxas Jam was held in the Cotton Bowl, we devoted a whole issue to it and expected its promoter, Pace Concerts, to be appreciative. When Pace gave us one backstage pass and one parking pass, a seething Stoney printed 500 counterfeit passes from the original we’d been provided and we handed them out to anyone who wanted one. On concert day, an army of rockers invaded the backstage area. Security couldn’t figure out what had gone wrong as the unexpected crowd gobbled the performers’ buffet and drank all the margaritas intended for Van Halen and Heart.

Being part of Stoney Burns’s band of merry pranksters, and getting to meet rock stars like Bruce Springsteen, Robert Plant, Ringo Starr, and Tom Petty, was a college kid’s dream come true. By 1982, however, my college days were well behind me. I didn’t want to be forty years old and still standing up at a Rolling Stones concert, and so I moved on, taking with me a lot of good photos and great memories. Buddy went on without me, and survives to this day.

If anyone asked what I remember most about my tenure at Buddy, it would have to be two of Stoney Burns’s oft-repeated quips:

“A man who won’t lie to a woman has absolutely no respect for her feelings,” and “I hope that they never legalize marijuana, because then you couldn’t buy it on Sundays.”

I guess you had to be there.


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