The Roof Garden

1997 - Ballroom

Probably no other single ballroom in Iowa rock music conjures up more memories that the Roof Garden. Many youth cut their first dance steps at the Roof while on summer vacation. The Roof Garden opened for operation on June 23, 1923 under the ownership of Dr. A.L. Peck and quickly established itself as the place to dance because of the growing popularity of the Iowa Great Lakes region as a midwest vacation mecca.

During the 30's and 40's the hottest big bands in the U.S. made the Roof their summer place to play. From Count Basie to Glenn Miller to Louis Armstrong to the Dorsey's they all called the Roof Garden "Home."

In the late 50's the ownership of the Roof Garden passed on to Darlowe Oleson, and that is when Iowa discovered rock and roll.

Darlowe at one time owned five different ballrooms in Iowa and most musicians recognize him as the man who first took the risk to book and bring that "wild rock and roll music" to the teens of Iowa.

The roster for the Roof Garden reads like a who's who of rock. The Beach Boys, the Byrds, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Yardbirds, the Monkees, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, The Crickets and the list could go for hours.

Unfortunately, Darlowe died in a plane crash in 1973 and lost the original Roof Garden in 1988 due to old age.

Even though the Roof and its rock and roll architect, Darlowe Oleson are no longer with us we'll all remember them both and welcome them into the Iowa Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame.

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