Darrel Hein

2013 - Support Person

In 1975, Darrel Hein was approached by the The Surf Ballroom to come to Clear Lake, IA to take over management of The Surf. He understood if something didn’t change, The Surf would be sold and either converted into a Farm & Home Store or torn down and replaced by condos. Darrel believed The Surf needed to be saved, so he took over management for The Surf in January 1976.

One of the first things Darrel did was fix the cloud machine, and you haven’t danced until you have danced a slow dance under the clouds at The Surf Ballroom. The Surf began hosting concerts and dances again, and he brought back a mix of programming that ranged from the traditional polka and big bands, to rock ‘n roll and country western music. He said, “It was real slim pickins for a time,” and the Surf was also rented for conventions. He believed changes in musical tastes and tougher drunken driving laws were factors in creating a decline in the ballroom business. Nevertheless, he brought many greats acts to The Surf including Bobby Vee, Ricky Nelson, Jan and Dean, Buddy Knox, Freddie “Boom, Boom” Cannon, Head East, Glenn Miller Orchestra, Carl Perkins, Benny Goodman Orchestra just to name a few.

Darrel was instrumental in starting The Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and Big Bopper Reunion concerts in 1979. The two-day event drew Holly fans and well-known rock ‘n roll performers from around the world. This event is still held today as the Winter Dance Party, an event that continues to grow to this day, helping keep rock ‘n roll alive in Iowa.

In 1988, Darrel had a Summer Dance Party event to welcome the Valens family and J.P. Richardson to The Surf Ballroom for the first time. There was a parade, and the families were introduced to the city of Clear Lake. The street past The Surf Ballroom was renamed Buddy Holly Place, and J.P. Richardson was presented with his father’s watch. The monument that now stands in front of The Surf was dedicated and presented to The Surf Ballroom from the Darrel R. Hein family. He also purchased a stone marker to be placed near the site of the Buddy Holly plane crash. Unfortunately, it was stolen, but it has been replaced with a new permanent marker.

The Buddy Holly Memorial Society gave Darrel an award of merit in 1989. This award is given to the person who did the most to keep the music and memory of Buddy Holly in the public eye during the previous year.

Darrel was also recognized for his leadership by his colleagues. In October 1976, Darrel was elected to the national board of directors of the Entertainment Operators of America and was selected by the board to be its public relations director. In 1985, he was elected vice president of the National Ballroom and Entertainment Association, having served on its board of directors for nine years. He was elected president in 1986.

Before coming to The Surf, Darrel, a former professional roller skater, had previously owned and operated the Trianon Roller Rink in Spencer, IA and the Majestic Roller Rink in Arnolds Park, IA. He also served as public relations director at Arnold’s Park Amusement Park for 11 years.

Darrel Hein passed away June 4, 1998, but we know he would have been proud to be recognized as an inductee into the IRRMA Hall of Fame for his outstanding support to Iowa’s rock ‘n roll history.

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