The Jefferson Iowa News®


  Bell Tower Festival Highs and Lows

Jefferson Iowa News has archived Bell Tower Festival highlights since its inception. We though we'd take a moment now, during your drab, dreary winter, and chronicle a few of the event's past highs and lows. These are just a few of the more memorable occurrences, some from earlier days that our younger readers may not have had the privilege to witness.

High - 1964 Bell Tower ... The Beatles play at the beer tent. Local community leaders consider it a total failure. Common feeling in the community is that the Beatles were "a bunch of untalented punks. That guitar player Harrison can't even read music - you'll never hear from him again. I can't wait until Pat Boone puts them in their place." Local high school kids enjoy concert, but say "stupid name - they will be a one-hit wonder and completely forgotten."

Low - 1965 Bell Tower ... Pat Boone plays Bell Tower. He plays before an audience of 13. He is obviously lip-sinking and under the influence. Police confiscate a large amount of heroin from his dressing room the next morning. Also, rumors abound that he had an affair with local 8th grade algebra teacher Herb "I'm a taker" Nelson. Local civic leaders decide that they are tired of these "wild drugged-out rock groups playing here". They vow to make entertainment family-friendly. They vote to invite Jerry Lee Lewis to the next year's Bell Tower Festival.

Low - 1969 Bell Tower ... Duane Ellet imposter shows up for show with fake Floppy. Crowd becomes unruly. Decides Duane is actually speaking Floppy's lines. Show is abruptly halted when Floppy, in a fit of rage, threatens (after hearing the 'hot rod' joke 37 times) to "kill all the children and rape all the men in this #@*#!hole town".

Low - 1970 Bell Tower ... An obviously drunk Myron Floren shows up but is asked to leave the stage after a profanity-laced version of "The Missouri Polka". A staggering Floren proceeds to break the neck off a whiskey bottle, climb on top of an amplifier, and threaten to "cut the nut sack off any #*&#@%! cops that touch me".

High - 1975 Bell Tower ... Olivia Newton-John is the main act at the beer tent. Following a time-honored Bell Tower tradition, she shows up drunk. During her rendition of "Xanadu" she begins slurring and then completely forgetting the words. Her drummer, in obvious disgust, shouts at her, calling her "nothing but a drunken slut". The bass player attacks the drummer and a general fight ensues. It spills over into the audience, who join in the melee. The riot results in two overturned police cars, and the stage is burned to the ground. Seven people are admitted to the emergency room as a result. City attorney Ovid Anderson calls the event "our most successful show to date, at least from a liability standpoint". Bell Tower committee decides to invite the Who to the festival in 1976.   


Rick Bland, 02-15-2010