Born January 25, 1942, Wally Maduzia was the eldest of three sons born to Walter & Jean Maduzia of Chicago, IL. While in grammar school, Wally showed an interest in music. His parents noticed his dedication and perseverance as he practiced the harmonica in his bedroom closet routinely.
His father, Wally Sr., was an ardent fan and hobbyist of the concertina and belonged to a neighborhood musician’s club. What could be more perfect in the heavily populated Polish section of Chicago? Influenced by his dad, Wally Jr. decided that the concertina was something he wanted to learn. As a youngster in grade school he practiced on his on his own. He also made it his business to sometimes join his Dad at some of the club meetings with fellow musicians. Wally listened to records and studied polka music on the radio. Through perseverance and determination, he finally mastered the instrumentation that his family grew to love. His parents flattered by their son’s accomplishments, bought Wally his first concertina for his Grammar School graduation. Wally would continue to join his Dad at club meetings and play at jam sessions. To this day Wally still favors that concertina which his parents gave him. He still prides himself on playing it at special events and family gatherings.
As a teenager, after his High School years, Wally worked in a machine shop. At work, Wally happened to injure his foot that resulted in being off from work for nearly two months. It was during this period of time that a friend of Wally’s influenced him to hobby with yet more instruments, namely the clarinet and saxophone. Wally became obsessed with all these instruments until he learned to play them as well as the concertina. Wally’s friend was Jim Litke.
It was at this juncture in his life that Wally would receive an offer to play with a local Chicago band by the name of Jerry Pietranczyk and the Polka Sharps and record his first album. As a teenager, and avid polka fan and now an accomplished musician, Wally would at this point begin to earn the reputation he possesses today. A young, teenaged Wally Maduzia made public appearances, playing throughout Chicago’s polka circuit, becoming friends with a multitude of Chicagoland notables and developed a reputation respected by the best of the concertina players and musicians everywhere. Names such as Eddie Zima, Casey Siewierski, Casey Homel and so many more, recognized Wally Maduzia as a new and proficient force to join the ranks of concertina players, which the City of Chicago always prided itself on.
It wasn’t long until Wally was scouted out by some of the greats. Li’l Wally would utilize Wally’s talents to create his Jagiello Sound and Eddie Blazonczyk would soon ask him to join the ever-popular Versatile Versatones. It was at this point in his life that Wally met his wife Pat at a polka dance at Chicago’s Polonia Grove and Ballroom. Wally went on to record and travel with top names such as Eddie Blazonczyk, Marion Lush, and Li’l Wally continuing to build an enviable reputation until several dreams came true.
In 1967 Wally married Pat Krason and they started a family of their own. Just a few years later still another dream came true. Wally was able to form a new style of polka band incorporating a leaderless philosophy. While there was no official bandleader, the band was comprised of talented individuals who thought as much of their friendships and getting along together as they did playing music. They shared duties of running the band and this worked out well. The band was and still is well known as “The Tones”. “The Tones” were a band that made a tremendous impact on a new generation of polka musicians. “The Tones” made tremendous strides in influencing even a higher level of musicianship. Though this band had no leader, Wally Maduzia has been credited for being the catalyst within this dynamic, nationally known influential orchestra influential orchestra of yesterday. Wally has always been on the cutting edge in polka music with the bands he played in, as well as the ideas he incorporated. He is credited with starting the trend of polka bands using an accordion and a concertina simultaneously in their instrumentation. He is also the originator and creator of the famous “bellow shake” on the concertina. Wally Maduzia has to date recorded on over 40 record albums and is a lifetime Charter member of one of the newest and innovative polka bands today, “Freeze Dried”.
Wally and Pat have three beautiful children, Mike, Michelle, and Dave. They too are ardent fans of their Dad’s accomplishments. With obligations to raise his family, devoting more time to his wife and children, a career as an Application and Production Engineer, Wally decided to make polka music a sideline. Today, Wally still enjoys playing polka music and remains in the spotlight as a member of Stas Bulanda and the Dyno-Chicago. Countless fans admire his concertina, clarinet and sax work and he continues to record for several artists. Wally has always preferred to maintain sideman status, although through the years, he has always been part of the Chicago connection. The Chicago connection was a celebrity status that had to be earned. Yes, Wally Maduzia has certainly earned celebrity status. It’s because of his commitment, dedication, loyalty and love for music that he has uniquely made a name for himself on a national level. In view of this unique effort, success and national acclaim as a sideman, Wally Maduzia is truly a worthy candidate for the International Polka Music Hall of Fame.