Ray Henry – Living Category – Inducted 1972

Portfolio Categories: 1972 and H.

Ray Henry

 

While still in his early teens, Henry Mocarski, of Windsor, Connecticut started a polka band with Emil Juda on drums, Ray Zak on sax, and Henry Mocarski on accordion.  Using the first names of Ray Zak and Henry Mocarski, the Ray Henry Orchestra was born.  This group played in a local restaurant for approximately 2 ½ years with much of their earnings used to build up their polka library.  Then they made plans to have a 10-piece orchestra.  Running ads in local newspapers, all positions were soon filled and rehearsals begun.  Hired to play a wedding, the exposure brought immediate response.  They soon found themselves performing in many polka dancing spots in the Connecticut area.

 

In 1947, while rehearsing in Hartford, Frank Wojnarowski happened to visit the rehearsal hall.  Already a popular recording artist, Frank suggested that Ray contact Walter Dana with respect to making records.  Following his advice, “Don’t Get Married, Son” was recorded on a 78 rpm single.  The name of Ray Henry reached national prominence.  Bookings followed in Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Ohio and Detroit.  The orchestra recorded some 84-78 rpm records for Dana. “Blonde Bombshell Polka” became a hit in 1952.  “Ballroom Polka” became a hit in the mid-60’s and is standard in the polka music field today.

 

Since the disbandonment of the Dana Record Company, Ray has produced two albums for the Steljo label and is presently recording for Rola Records.  Their most recent release at the time of his induction was an album recorded live at the Polish National Home in Hartford.

 

Ray Henry, his wife Gloria, and son Mark, resided in Windsor, Connecticut, where, in addition to maintaining a full playing schedule, Ray gave music lessons in virtually every popular instrument of the day.

 

He is now deceased.