Central Iowa Band Listings & Music Scene
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Our Last Victim of 2006 : The Iowa Rock and Roll Music Association

Dan Nissly
Mike Woltz

3. IRRMA is not exactly a household name. Why?

(Dan) Many people perceive us as being a regional organization. Though the museum is at Arnolds Park and we have our induction ceremony there over labor-day week-end; we are a state-wide organization with Directors in all regions and events in all regions. Mike and I and a hardy band of consultants are working diligently here in central Iowa to raise our profile. In the last three years we have had some nice press and had a great IRRMA concert at the Val-Air. One of our mottos is "who wants to be a member of a Hall of Fame that no one has ever heard of!"

Iowa Rock Fact # 3

Anyone heard of the Doors? The Doors - KRNT Theater The Doors on Wednesday, September 27, 1967 -The "Book of Rock List" cites this show as the all - time worse attendance for a major act : 16 tickets sold . A year later " Light My Fire " lights up the charts.

In 2003 John Senn (Jay of the Dee Jay & the Runaways) and the members of the Iowa Rock n' Roll Music Association opened the Rock 'n Roll Music Museum .
The Iowa Rock 'n Roll Muesum is located on the site of the Roof Garden Ballroom in Arnolds Pa

4. tell me about the IRRMA Hall of Fame. We've talked about the purpose of IRRMA-your mission statement, so to speak, it appears one of the real exciting things you do is solicit nominations for music personages and induct the most deserving.

(Dan - laughs) Well, we think they're the most deserving!
This function is one of the main reasons that I volunteer a lot of time to this organization; not that I consider myself such a discriminating arbiter of talent, but I love the whole process of discovering groups, researching their history, hearing from their fans, looking at the old promo pics, 45's ,etc. This is the perfect hobby for the amateur musicologist.

I would direct your readers again to our web-site www.iowarocknroll.com so they can read up on the nomination process, the criteria, and check out some of the inductees. The second phase of the process is working with the groups that are playing on induction night. As a professional musician myself, it is so gratifying to watch these people who maybe haven't seen each other, or played in 30-40 years, re-unite and rehearse. Mediacom did a great show on this whole process in late 2005. If you have a chance, find a copy or ask them to replay it. It's great. You'll notice we are evaluating nominations of groups from the 50's, 60's, and 70's.We are trying to reach out to all musicians in the State of Iowa because pretty soon we'll open up the 80's and so on.

Iowa Rock Fact # 4 :
O.W. Appleton Inventor of the first electric guitar, Burlington, Iowa - In the Winter of 1941-42, Appleton created and built what has turned out to be the first ever solid body electric guitar. He carved the body from a block of solid wood and added a Gibson neck. He used a Gibson neck, as they were the only company that offered an adjustable trust rod for a guitar neck.

Dan Nissly Drums
Induction Night for the Pelican Peace Band ?

5. You mentioned earlier a museum in Arnolds Park. Of all places, why have it located in an amusement park?

(Dan) You know, a lot of people ask that question. There is a very good reason. One of the most famous ballrooms in the midwest- "the roof garden" is located in the park. Once again, you can get detail from the web-site, but it was THE place for rock bands to play from the late 50's on. You'll notice that most hall of fame bands played the roof garden at one time or another. Our museum, which is overflowing with artifacts now( we need more space) is a treasure trove for any music fan. they have posters, instruments, wild 70's stage costumes, a vintage radio station replication, and of course, a whole wall of plaques honoring hall of fame inductees since 1997.

Wall of Plaques at the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame


Iowa Rock Fact # 5
: Veterans Auditorium aka " The Barn":

Largest Crowd:
Kiss' record attendance of 14,340 in January 1977.

Most Grossed in a Night : The double bill of Mötley Crüe and Whitesnake on July 12, 1987, set an all-time record for $209,500 in gross receipts - generated by an audience of 14,041.

Most Appearances: Kiss from 1977 to 1990, REO Speedwagon, from 1974 to 1987, Both have the distinction of headlining the most concerts at the auditorium, making seven appearances.

Noteworthy Events:

Oct. 15 1977 - Blue Oster Cult, Ram Jam, Cheap Trick: Blue Oster brings the 1st ever rock laser show to Des Moines, (Blue Oyster Cult's built to military specification collimated lasers.) the lasers are later outlawed in regulations set by Congress as too dangerous.

January 20th, 1982 - Ozzy Osbourne Bits the Head of a bat… Randy Rhoades plays Des Moines.


6. Do these inductees have any relevance in today's music scene? Why should present day rockers care?

(Mike) Absolutely there is relevance in today's music scene. Many of the bands that are inducted rehearse to perform at the induction celebration and discover just how much fun it is to play rock 'n' roll.
It isn't long and they are out playing gigs together again. But more important, we need to trace the roots of rock 'n' roll. When doing so, we discover that there is a large blues influence in early rock 'n' roll as well as other forms of music. So, if we trace the roots of today's rock 'n' roll, we will discover an early rock 'n' roll influence.

(Dan) I'd like to think so. We want IRRMA to be a vital part of the Iowa tock music scene for years to come. I would think that the musicians out there appearing in all the great venues in Iowa were influenced by musicians they saw and heard in the 80's-90's on into the 21st century. In the future these singular musicians will no doubt be the focus of future nominating committees. We want to encourage any and all musicians, and music fans to become familiar with our web-site and to feel free to contact us. It is our goal to increase our member base and work towards a strong future so when your 22
year old future stars are 50, they'll still be a hall of fame and a museum.



  • Iowa Rock Fact # 6
    Richie Hayward - Drummer of Little Feat
    grew up a Ames Native. At 10, Hayward owned his first set of drums. He played his first gig on New Year's Eve of 1959 at nearly 13 years of age. The gig was at the Moose Hall in Nevada, IA. Hayward continued to work with the likes of Joan Armatrading, Robert Plant, Ry Cooder, Van Dyke Parks,
    Jon Cale, the Doobie Brothers, Arlo Guthrie, Peter Frampton, Carly Simon, Robert Palmer and others.

7. OK, you guys honor people, you have a museum, you do shows featuring inductees. That can't take all year, does it?

(Mike) We have a tremendous amount of projects that take place year round. I am going to let Dan explain those projects. However, I would like to mention that I am the Chair of our Membership Committee so I spend much of my time attempting to communicate with and involve our members. Believe me, there is plenty of activities for our members to be involved with. One of the fund raising projects that I am proud of involve producing music CDs. We pick a type of music and then ask our members to record a tune or two to put on the CD. We are currently in the process of producing an IRRMA RockABilly CD. It should be released shortly after the first of the year.

(Dan) (laughs) If you do it right, it can! Seriously, we are involved in some other programs also. One of the fastest growing and most popular is our 4-Rs program. (details on the web) This is an outreach, hands-on, in-school program developed by one of our directors. it is aimed at an even younger audience - grade school, junior high. It is a multi-media show focusing on the history of rock' n' roll; nationally and locally. We also spend a lot of time archiving the history of the music here in Iowa. Our hope is to be able in the near future to present some exhibits in various museums around the state


  • Iowa Rock Fact # 7
    March 27, 2004, West Des Moines
    - Slipknot Produces Duality
    -Music Video
    The Des Moines based band Slipknot has toured around the world, but when it came to shooting their next video - they decided to come home. 500 Slipknot fans, affectionately known as maggots helped wreck a West Des Moines home all in the name of heavy metal. Fans the of the platnum selling Slipknot traveled from as
    far off as the Urkrain and Great Britian to come to the video shoot.

Dan Nissly (Left) in the
band Sky Dancer
8 . Why are you doing this? What's your background?

(Mike) Can you imagine a world without music? Music has played a vital role in my life. It's good for the soul. I played in a rock 'n' roll band for 6-7 years back in the late sixties and early seventies. Since then, music has continued to be a large influence in my life. Much of my free time has been spent being involved in attempting to learn the art of recording and producing music. Becoming a member of the Board of Directors of the Iowa Rock 'N Roll Music Association is very important to me because the mission of the organization is very honorable.

(Dan) Actually I'm more "were" than "are" (laughs) briefly, grew up on a farm west of Des Moines. Started drum lessons in 1963. Started playing semi-pro in 1966. Went full-time in 1972 with a group called Pelican Peace Band. In the next
7 years, we traveled a 10 state area with this group and another group called Sky Dancer. Pelican was honored with an induction in 2004.

Iowa Rock Fact # 8
Iron Maiden was a last minute addition to the Iowa Jam in 1982. The Jam featured Loverboy, Triumph, .38 Special, Quarterflash and Iron Maiden. Iron Maiden played the jam at noon after having played a last minute gig at Des Moines nightclub
"The Joker" the night before.

9. You guys were both professional musicians during the 70's, what was it like?

(Dan) It was an interesting decade.
Here in the Des Moines area, there seemed to be a sudden void where all of the great groups of the 60's just kinda disappeared. All of a sudden due to college, the draft, work, etc. an opening was there for the players who were 2-3 years younger. I was one of those guys. The venues changed from teen clubs to rock bars. The drinking age was lowered to 19, then 18. When I look at all the places to play in Des Moines today it blows my mind. When I was playing in the 70's there were never more than 2-3 places to play in Des Moines. Consequently we were on the road constantly. We played all over Iowa in the first year, then slowly
branched out until we were covering a 10 state area!

Is this common today? We got to see all sorts of groups along the way and broaden our fan base. I have been told that the pay rates for groups have not changed that much over the years. We would drive 2-300 miles, stay in a motel, play 4+ hours a night for 3 nights and make maybe $600-$750 per 3 nights.

The Pelican Peace Band

Then & Now

Another cool thing happened in the 70's, some bands were starting do their own tunes on a consistent basis. Both my groups normally did 40-50% original tunes during a four-hour night. This was unheard of just a few years before. You had to mix them up so the club owner didn't complain. When we did concerts as an opening act our 40 minutes was always original material. It's so refreshing to see that this seems to be commonplace now. There are some other observations. It was rare to have a group back then do a record unless they were actually signed to a record deal.

You'll note in the induction section of our website that the 70's hall of famers did this either a 45 or an album. I love the fact that everyone has a CD now. The bands are writing songs and recording them while they're fresh.

I have a son who is getting his masters degree in percussion performance at Julliard School. In his spare time he plays with a couple rock groups in Manhattan and had the opportunity to play CBGB's several times before it closed and also another well-known place "The Knitting Factory." Through him, his mother and I are able to stay current with the good music being made in the 21st century.

Kyle Munson did an article recently on the group Envy Corps. It was a behind the scenes type story about the realities of being in a band. It reminded me of a similar article the Des Moines Tribune did on my group dateline January 24 1974. It was very interesting to read them side-by-side and to conclude that not much had changed.

(Mike) (laughing) I guess I really didn't consider myself a professional musician. If performing for pay makes a person a professional, then I guess I was a professional. When I think back about playing in the 70s, it seems as if our world was less complex back in those days and we all felt better about the world and ourselves. A band developed loyal fans. They would follow the band from gig to gig. There seemed to be a brotherhood/sisterhood atmosphere. I'm not sure that exists today. Who knows, maybe I was just young and naïve with youthful dreams. It seems to me that the music scene, the music and our world changed toward the latter 70s. Our society became more conservative but that's a whole different subject. I very much agree with Dan in regard to most bands recording and promoting CDs today. This is a good thing. The ability to do that back in the 70s was cost prohibitive. All in all, looking back the 70s seems like a pretty good time. I'm not sure I could survive it a second time (smiling).

Iowa Rock Fact # 9
Sioux City Rocker Tommy Bolin ( Solo Artist - and member of Deep Purple, James Gang - Zephyr and Patch of Blue: On Saturday December 4, 1976 his girlfriend saw that he was looking much worse and finally an ambulance was called - he was dead before it arrived. Cause of death was multiple drug intoxication. He was 25. Six days later Tommy Bolin was buried back in Sioux City. His old girlfriend flew over from England to place on his finger a ring she'd been saving for him, a present from a roadie. It had been on
Jimi Hendrix's hand the day he died.

Do you know anything about these Iowa Rock N Roll Hall of Hame Inductees

John "Jr" Robinson

Keith Knutson


Willie Leacox

Bet you heard their Music


10 . Is it still possible to be a full-time rock musician here in central Iowa?

(Dan) From 1972 to 1979, none of us had a day job. We were very poor, but we were able to pay our bills. The upside of this poverty was that we could travel all over to play and we had plenty of time to rehearse. To me the most notable improvements in the whole performing process are:
1. The great advances in sound reinforcement.
2. The quality of the drummers. The P.A.s of today are soooo much better than we used, and they have they added benefit of being 1/10 of the size of all the gear we used to lug around. There were some great drummers in Des Moines during the late 60's and the 70's. But I must say the across the board quality is much higher today. I think it's because the quality, quantity and availability of instruction has grown considerably. What you have read here is a short monologue about the music scene in Des Moines 30+ years ago. We (IRRMA) are attempting to put together an oral history of that era as part of our mission of preserving the history of rock music in Iowa. Once again we are very interested in engaging the musicians of today in our organization.

Mike's Band : Freedom Road - 1969

(Mike) I believe the answer to your question is 'yes' if a person is willing to make the sacrifices involved in doing so. I believe it is still possible to be a full-time rock musician but it is important to note the poverty and hardships that go with it. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a glamorous and prosperous lifestyle. I think this relates to my 'brotherhood/sisterhood atmosphere' comment. Back in the day, fans would offer a place to stay and other similar help when a band was working away from home. We had "A Little Help From Our Friends" (big grin). I'm not sure that atmosphere exists today.

Iowa Rock Fact # 10
David Brent Keuning is the guitarist for the American synth rock band The Killers.
Born 28 March 1976 Des Moines, Iowa - Keuning is originally from Pella, Iowa.

Iowa Rock Fact # 11

  • Glenn Buxton - Alice Cooper: He was known throughout his career as the "Blonde Bomber"
    Buxton was the co-writer of such rock n' roll
    classics as "School's Out," "I'm Eighteen," and "Elected," and is credited as lead guitarist
    on seven albums by the
    Alice Cooper group including the chart-topping
    "Billion Dollar Babies." He lived for a time on a farm near Clarion, Iowa performing with local artists.
    In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine named Buxton
    as one of the "100 greatest guitarists of all time".

Iowa Rock Fact # 12

11. How does IRRMA support itself?

(Mike) First, I think it is important to mention that the cost
of our projects is tremendous. We would not be able to do the things that we do without the financial support of our membership and sponsors. But frankly, it's a struggle. We are always looking for fundraising opportunities. We spend much time looking for grant money and sponsors. We have rock 'n' roll events throughout the state. I would really like to take this opportunity to invite the readers of this interview to join and become a part of IRRMA. It's a wonderful organization with a honorable mission and we need the help and support of rock 'n' rollers.

(Dan) That is very true! We are a non-profit organization, and as such we are dependent upon concert revenues, dues revenue, grants; and we are grateful for the various charitable gifts we receive. If you're interested it's tax deductible. Once again, we are growing, but maintaining an adequate income stream takes a lot of effort.

12. QUESTION: What's the future look like?

(Dan) Looks bright and we are especially interested in involving your readership. Thanks for the help.

Iowa Rock Fact # 12
KFMG became KGGO in 1975, and KGGO played Top 40 music for its first few years before shifting to an album-oriented rock format. They have sponsored events like "The Roaring Raft Bash" and on Nov 24, 1981 a free "Shooting Star" concert at the Civic Center. Most recently Summer Jam in Waterworks Park. Next up Scrue will start things off and KISS tribute band Deuce will rock 95 KGGO Arena on Friday, December 22. A Rock main stay in central Iowa .

Iowa Rock Fact # 13

Tiny Tim: In the late '80s moved to Des Moines, IA the singer returned to the USA to live in Des Moines, Iowa, 'because it's clean.
In August of 1995 he married for a third time to Miss Sue, and he moved to Minneapolis.

Martin Sharp, who designed Cream's distinctive Disraeli Gears cover work, also designed a cover for "Tiny Tim Rocks."
Mr. Tim was originally a pop rock-recording artist
until the falsetto style in
"Tiptoe Through the Tulips" brought him international fame.
Tiny Rocks
Check out Mr. Tim doing "Earth Angel"!


13. Once again, why the heck are you guys doing this. It must take a lot of your time.

(Mike) Well, it certainly isn't for any earnings because there isn't any. In short, I believe I am involved because of my love for the music and because of the honorable mission of the organization.

14. Any final thoughts?

(Mike) I would just like to invite your readers to become IRRMA members and get involved in our mission. The greater our membership and involvement, the more we will be able to accomplish for the rock 'n' roll scene in Iowa. Thanks for the interview. We appreciate it. Final Rock Fact: Thanks to Mike and Dan! Support of local musicians and Iowa's rock history is made possible by people like you ! Show your support …

Iowa Rock Fact

A Rock Hall of Fame Thanks to Mike and Dan!
Support of local musicians and Iowa's rock history is made
possible by people like you ! Show your support … www.iowarocknroll.com