Frank Liszka – Living Category – Inducted 1998

Portfolio Categories: 1998 and L.

Frank Liszka-102x150

 

Polka music speaks to the soul of Frank Liszka like no other music. Since the early 1960s going to local dances, Frank discovered his lifelong ambition, to become a polka musician. Following the examples of his polka heroes, Marion Lush, Li’l Wally, and Eddie Blazonczyk, Sr., Frank set out to become an integral part of the development and the play of polka music as we know it today.

 

Born in Greenville, Pennsylvania on January 11, 1953 to Frank and Nancy Liszka, he is the oldest of nine children. Frank started playing trumpet in grade school and continued throughout high school. At age 13, he started to take an interest in polka music and credit his father for promoting the interest. At that time his father was laid up for many months following surgery and decided to buy a concertina. His father would coax Frank to play the trumpet along with him, and before long, Frank was hooked.

 

Playing polkas came natural to Frank and he also enjoyed going to dances at Idora Park in Youngstown, Ohio. It was there that he met other young musicians who wanted to play and form a band too. At age 16, Frank met John and Tom Sniezek, as well as Bobby Clavert and they formed the Harmony Sharps band from New Castle, Pennsylvania. Frank played with the Harmony Sharps for five years at mostly weddings and club dates.

 

During this time he met Polka Hall of Famer, Bruno Mikos, who asked Frank if he was willing to fill in and back up Li’l Wally. Frank jumped at the chance and soon was on the road with Li’l Wally for three years.

 

In 1975, Frank, Bruno, Rich Benkowski and Bill Siegal formed the Harmony Stars. It was shortly after this union that this band started making waves felt nationally. In 1979, the United States Polka Association awarded the group the Favorite Polka Recording for the album “People Pleasing Polkas”.

 

Late in 1979, Frank and five other musicians decided that they wanted to try something a little more progressive and the band called The Brass Connection was formed. Almost immediately the band was one of the most popular bands on the polka circuit. Requested for appearances came pouring in. In 1981, the members of the USPA voted and presented The Brass Connection with the Favorite Band award. They were also presented with the Favorite Polka Album award for “A Winning Combination” and named “My Sweet Melinda,” a song written by Frank, as the #1 song.

 

In 1984, Frank’s magic pen struck again when he wrote “Your Big Brown Eyes Polka” and TBC again became award winners. The year 1985 was no exception because an old country tune called “Got No Reason”, which Frank had rearranged, was named the #1 song for 1985 by both the USPA and IPA.

 

In 1987, TBC disbanded and Frank moved to Baltimore seeking better employment opportunities. In 1988, he joined The Boys from Baltimore. By 1989, Frank and the members of The Boys found themselves in the winners circle at the USPA awards banquet because of their album “Boys Will Be Boys” which was named the #1 album for 1989. They also received an award for favorite band. It was also during this time that Frank and The Boys appeared in the movie, “He Said, She Said”. They were to appear in the wedding scene. The producer needed a song to do the chicken dance to, but not the original, due to copyright infringements. Frank had a song the next day titled “The Cluck Cluck Polka.”

 

In 1990, The Boys disbanded and Frank moved to Cleveland and married his sweetheart, Denise.

 

In 1991, Frank reorganized TBC and took over leadership of the band. It wasn’t long after that, in 1993, the USPA awarded Frank and TBC the Favorite Album Award for “Blue Magic”. the year 1994 would be no different, as the USPA awarded Frank and TBC the Favorite Album Award for “Down Through The Years”.

 

Frankie Liszka continues performing at the helm of TBC playing at all the major polka festivals and appearing through the country from New England to California and from Minnesota to Florida.

 

Frankie Liszka has been instrumental in the way we listen to and appreciate polka music today. To his credit, Frank has recorded 23 albums and has written over 70 songs. Frank is without a doubt one of the big reasons polka music is popular with the younger generation. His songs and his music are directed to the young at heart and you can see that by the large throngs of the younger generation who crowd around their bandstand or the patio at Seven Springs to hear TBC play.

 

On a personal note, Frank is married to wife, Denise, and at this writing they have a son, Nicholas C. Liszka. Frank also has two other sons, Frank A. Liszka, Jr. and Timothy P. Liszka, of whom he is very proud.