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The country music community is mourning the passing of a true Texas icon with one of the most legendary stories in music history.

Tommy Allsup, father of Austin Allsup from “The Voice,” died Jan. 11 in Lubbock, Texas at the age of 85, according to the Houston Chronicle.

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The Owasso, Oklahoma native may be best known for losing the coin toss that resulted in rocker Ritchie Valens winning a seat on the airplane that ultimately crashed in Iowa killing all on board, including rock icons Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper. According to the Chronicle, Tommy, who was part of Buddy Holly’s touring band The Crickets, pulled the 50-cent piece from his pocket and flipped the coin. He’s also responsible for the signature licks on “It’s So Easy,” famously covered by Linda Ronstadt.


Tommy’s body of work reads like a who’s who of country music. He lived in Los Angeles, Texas and then in Nashville, where he continued working as an in-demand guitarist, playing sessions with rock and country stars like Roy Orbison, Willie Nelson and Bob Wills. He also produced Bob’s “24 Great Hits by Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys.” In 1979, he opened a club in Dallas, named after the famous coin toss, “Tommy’s Head’s Up Saloon.”

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Austin shared the news of his father’s passing on Facebook on Jan. 11. He said he was one of 13 children.

No other details regarding his passing or services to remember the guitar hero have been announced at this time. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Allsup family.

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