Dennis Farland

2016 - Iowa Rock 'n Roll Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award

Dennis Farland was born in Newton in 1944, to a home always filled with music. After marring the love of his life and having two beautiful daughters, Dennis honed his skills at producing and promoting events, while racing motorcycles off-road, beginning in 1968 and continuing through 1984.

In the early 1980’s, Dennis joined the local Newton Community Theater production call K.R.O.X. as part of a then fictitious 8 TRACK BAND. After the production, the band continued to perform and enjoyed a successful run of more than 25 years. During this time, Dennis promoted the band and helped with booking gigs.

Dennis’s exposure to the booking side of things, led him to help with the booking of several other bands at
many ballrooms and other venues throughout the Midwest. His first opportunity for booking a national act was Bobby Vee, Johnny Tilleson and the Tymes, who he booked at the Palace Theater in Adventureland.

In the fall of 1998, Dennis began his biggest undertaking when Don Larson asked Dennis to help him with a tour honoring Ritchie Valens, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, Buddy Holly and Roger Peterson (pilot of the ill-fated Winter Dance Party plane crash). As fate would have it, Don could not continue to do the tour, and Dennis was asked to proceed with the tour without him. Larson provided all of his information for booking the tour, though no sponsors had been secured. With $8,000 of their own savings, and a$10,000 loaned to them by a very good friend, Dennis and his wife, Patricia, set out to making contacts and booking ballrooms. Among those ballrooms was the Surf Ballroom, and without their help and support the 1999 “40th Anniversary Winter Dance Party Tour” would have never been a success. The tour created a nonprofit scholarship fund “Buddy’s Buddies.” Thanks to that tour and numerous fundraisers over the years, Buddys’ Buddies, which Dennis was instrumental in founding, has given $50,000 in musical scholarships since 1999.

The Winter Dance Party tour led to many relationships, including a long-standing friendship with Jerry Naylor. Dennis took the lead in producing, promoting and booking locations for “Jerry Naylor’s Rockabilly Legends Tour” in partnership with a fundraiser for Iowa Public Television. Through that partnership, if a pledge was made to IPTV, the donor received two tickets to the show of their choice as well as a “Rockabilly Legends” box set. Naylor says, “Without my friendship with Dennis and his willingness to help us make this tour happen, we would have never gotten the Rockabilly Legends Tour off the ground, let alone had it be the success it was.”

Dennis still enjoys singing and percussion, and is always helping to book shows and continue Iowa’s rock and roll legacy.

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