Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Belle Starr and the Doc Holiday Dance Party, Donnellson, Iowa, February 29, 1964

One of our readers, John Doherty, of Raleigh, NC, has contacted us and helped answer a question posed on this blog almost ten years ago!

Here is some background: The Mighty1090KAAY blog was started in summer, 2009, shortly after the untimely death of KAAY's Doc Holiday II,  A. J.  Lindsey.  The blog's first postings honored A.J. and his career; one posting, titled,  "Where is Belle Starr?" (, began with this quote from long-time KAAY listener Ron Henselman:

I first heard A.J. as Doc around 1963 or 64 in the evening from Melrose Park, IL. Doc had a young lady on the show he called Belle Starr. She had one of the sexiest voices I have ever heard. Sometimes he called her Belly Starr to make fun of the way the name is spelled. Once in a while Doc referred to himself as The Rockin' Doctor. I'm not sure he even remembered that. All of this stuff was very important to me when I was sixteen or seventeen.
Ron contacted A.J. to learn as much as he could about Belle Starr.  Here's what A.J. replied:

Yes, I remember Belle Starr. She started doing requests when I was doing the night show. She was a very attractive girl from Little Rock University where I was going to college....   Her real name escaped me, so I asked Jim Pitcock a/k/a Ron Owens. Her real name is Sue Phelps and his last information was that she is living in Baton Rouge, LA.  All of us at KAAY, and the listeners alike, were in love with Belle Starr....  Anyone have any pictures or tape?"
And no one had any pictures or tape....  That was the "legend" of Belle Starr as we knew it  --- a name and a sexy voice but no face --- until a few weeks ago, when the following comment to the above story from 2009 popped up out of nowhere:

Anonymous January 19, 2019 at 10:53 AM 
The Doc Holiday Dance Party came to my high school in Donnellson, Iowa in 1964. Ron Owens and Belle Starr were there, I have photos of both which I will post shortly. Other DJs were there from WPGU, KOMA, WLOL. I won a twist contest and was given a first release Surfer Girl LP which the DJs autographed.

Wow! And better yet, the comment's poster, John Doherty, contacted us with the details and photos of the Doc Holiday Dance Party!

In a subsequent email, here's what John told us about the Dance Party:

I was one of those teenagers back in the 60s who laid in bed every night with my transistor radio under my pillow listening to 50000 watts from either KAAY, WLS, or KOMA, which ever was clearest at the time. We lived in a small southeastern Iowa town called Donnellson.

My high school, Central Lee, sponsored a Doc Holiday Dance party on 2/29/1964.  We invited all the schools from the conference and we had over 500 kids there.  For some reason Doc did not attend, I don't remember the reason why?  It didn't matter much because the guys were thrilled that Belle Starr came, and Ron too.  I won a twist contest and was given a Surfer Girl album which Ron and a couple of the other guest DJs signed.   But my highlight without a doubt was doing the "twist" with one "Hot" Belle Starr,  I will never forget her bright red dress with red gloves and her black hair, what a thrill for a 15 year old!
And John has the photos to prove it!  First off, here she is, Belle Starr herself:

Even though the photo is in black and white (it comes from John's high school yearbook), you can still "see" that bright red dress and the red gloves!  And here is Ron Owens, covering for the missing Doc Holiday:

After I got a look at these photos, I asked John some follow-up questions, which he graciously answered:

I don't remember all the details but it was a pretty big deal back then.  It was advertised on radio stations in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, and Missouri.  There were several DJs there,  I only recall the ones that signed my album,  Gary Connors (WPGU Champaign, IL) and Scott Perin?? (WLOL Minneapolis, MN), and Ron Owens.  I said over 500 attended, our school Central Lee had about 400 students, 9th-12th, at the time and we probably more than doubled it, more like 800-1000.  Our gym and cafeteria were packed and the school parking lot was full of buses and cars from other schools. 
The stage was on one end of the gym and it also separated the gym from the cafeteria.  If you were in the gym you could look through the stage and see into the cafeteria.  Anyway, they had all the stage curtains open because they had to put the overflow kids into the cafeteria.  It was definitely non stop dancing.

Belle was a huge hit dancing with the guys, I was one of the lucky ones.
And John supplied this photo of the Non Stop Dancing. (Is Belle in there somewhere?  How about John?)

And here is the write up that appeared in the yearbook:

But what about that Beach Boys album that John won in the twist contest?  Well, John still has it, and he sent this photo as proof!

If you click on the photo for a larger version, you can see Ron Owens' signature in the center, just above the Beach Boys' heads!  John also told us:

Some time ago I did research and confirmed that my Surfer Girl Album is a first pressing.  It is a monophonic with "file under: the beach boys * vocal group, surfing music" and T 1981 appearing across the top.  Most of these were sent out to radio stations or used for other promo use, some did make it to retail stores.

What a great story and a great collection of photos!  Thanks, John, for telling us all about the KAAY Dance Party and putting a face to the name, "Belle Starr"!

---Dave S.  (

P.S. If you, dear reader, have similar KAAY-related stories or materials to share, we'd love to hear from you --- contact me at the email address just above!