Under the legendary Arnolds Park roller coaster in northwest Iowa, the Roof Garden sill hosts events each summer. It’s also the location the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Connie Muller is the curator of the museum,“Iowa has 200 ballrooms at one time the most of any state in the nation…so there were plenty of places for bands to form and play.”
The Hall of Fame contains memorabilia from many of Iowa’s outstanding rockers. Each Labor Day weekend more artists are inducted to the hall. This year former Tom Petty drummer Phil Jones, a native of Oskaloosa, and Jonesin a popular regional band formerly of Des Moines are among those who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame..
“There are hundreds nominated we can have only 30 each year,” said Mueller.
One member of the Hall of Fame, Ritchie Valens, rose to stardom before he was killed in a plane crash with Buddy Holly near Clear Lake in 1959.
Ritchie’s sister Connie Valens has come back from California to Iowa for many tributes to her late brother
“It’s been an amazing journey,” said Valens. “I moved here to the Lakes (Okoboji area) last October, the people have been warm they have embraced me,” she added.
Valens sang some of her brother’s music this summer at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, where Richie gave his last performance. She said it was quite a feeling to stand where Ritchie stood, and to see his picture on the wall across the room.
“As far as remembering my brother, he was 17, his career was eight months long and people still play his music they come up and tell me they love the movie,” said Valens.