Friday, February 27, 2015
Melody Hill Ballroom Dubuque, Iowa
The beautiful Melody Mill Ballroom was located outside the city of Dubuque by a mere mile. In 1947, Vince and Vi Schulting purchased the landmark on Highways 52 & 3. It was billed at that time as the largest ballroom in the state of Iowa and was a popular place for music lovers. The Schultings booked the best of the big bands such as Guy Lombardo, Andy Williams, Count Basie, Lawrence Welk and Louis Armstrong to please their hundreds and hundreds of fans. Along came rock and roll so the couple made the decision to continue the format of bringing the bands people were demanding to see but this time with a different sound. Musicians such as the Beach Boys, Brenda Lee, Frankie Avalon, the Everly Brothers, Gene Vincent, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Gillmer and the Fireballs, Bobbie Vee, Conway Twitty, Johnny & the Hurricanes, Freddy Cannon, Bobby Rydell, the Ventures and many, many more. They also booked country entertainers such as Johnny Cash, Wanda Jackson and Web Pearce. Opening bands were needed for these national acts so the Melody Mill provided many Iowa ‘garage bands’ the opportunity to play. Friday and Saturday nights were country or big band nights and Sunday was reserved for rock and roll. Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper were scheduled to appear at Melody on the night after their appearance in Fargo, ND . Of course the plane crash near Clear Lake tragically halted that tour. This grand ballroom was a memorable place for the entertainers due to the great facility, enthusiastic fans and the warmth of the Schultings. Evidence of this is in two of the letters of recommendation for the ballroom’s induction into the Hall of Fame. The letters were sent by Brenda Lee and one of the Beach Boys. The Melody Mill was sold to Interstate Power Company in 1964. IPC tore down the ballroom so several businesses could be built on that site. Melody Mill Ballroom brought top notch entertainment to the Tri-State area and provided thousands of good memories for more than one generation of music lovers. It takes its rightful place among the best of the Hall of Fame ballrooms in 2009.