• Edward Kutas Sr. – Pioneer Category – Inducted 2017

    Edward Chester Kutas Sr. was a well-known and important promoter of polka music in Buffalo and Western New York.  He was the owner and operator of the historic Warsaw Inn on Broadway in the heart of the Polish East Side.  For many years, Ed had a vision for a polka…

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  • Marge Machay – Deceased Category – Inducted 2017

    Since 1968, Marge Machay and her predeceased husband Chuck, owned and operated Polonia Ballroom and Grove.  A Chicago landmark, its name was changed to Polonia Banquets in the 1980’s as renovations were made to broaden the business and better accommodate its patrons.  For almost a half century, Marge leveraged the…

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  • Elmer Scheid – Deceased Category – Inducted 2017

    Elmer Scheid was born on October 4, 1921 in New Ulm, MN.  At the young age of 8 years old, he learned to play the concertina from his father and performed his first professional dance event with the John Fritsche Band at the age of 14.  Elmer later played with…

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  • Andrew “Andy” Fenus – Living Category – Inducted 2017

      Andrew (Andy) Fenus, along with his brother Steve Fenus, organized The Trel Tones polka band in 1954.  Since that time the band has performed at venues across the United States and Canada and appeared on numerous radio and TV shows in Ohio and Pennsylvania, including a three-hour special about…

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  • Fred Ziwich – Living Category – Inducted 2017

    Fred Ziwich was born in Cleveland, Ohio on March 10, 1954.  He began taking accordion lessons at the age of 5, and could read music before he could read English.  Fred started taking clarinet lessons in the 4th grade, began playing the tenor sax in the 8th grade, and learned…

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  • Don Jodlowski – Deceased Category – Inducted 2016

    DON JODLOWSKI WAS BORN ON AUGUST 30,1940 INTO A MUSICAL FAMILY THAT LIVED ON THE SOUTHWEST SIDE OF CHICAGO, IL. HIS FAMILY’S LOVE FOR POLKA MUSIC INSPIRED HIM TO TAKE DRUM LESSONS AT A YOUNG AGE. DON DEVELOPED HIS SKILLS SO THAT BY THE 1960’S HE WAS DRUMMING WITH BANDS…

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  • Richard Midura – Pioneer Category – Inducted 2016

    RICHARD MIDURA WAS BORN ON AUGUST 12, 1935 IN CHICOPEE, MA. KNOWN AS “THE PIONEER OF POLKA CLARINET IMPROVISATION” BY HIS PEERS, HE LENT HIS SMOOTH CLARINET AND SAXOPHONE MASTERY TO THE LIVE PERFORMANCES AND RECORDINGS OF THE MOST PROMINENT EASTERN STYLE POLKA BANDS OF HIS DAY. RICHARD’S UNIQUE PLAYING…

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  • Dean Hansen – Living Category – Inducted 2016

    DEAN HANSEN WAS BORN IN ITHACA, NE IN APRIL OF 1933 INTO A FARMING FAMILY OF GERMAN ANCESTRY. HE WAS STRICKEN WITH POLIO AT THE AGE OF FOUR AND SUFFERED PARALYSIS OF HIS RIGHT LEG. FEARING HIS CONDITION WOULD PREVENT DEAN FROM EVER FARMING, HIS PARENTS INTRODUCED HIM TO MUSIC…

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  • Carl Finch – Living Category – Inducted 2016

    CARL FINCH WAS BORN IN TEXARKANA, TX ON NOVEMBER 29, 1951. HE BEGAN PERFORMING AT THE EARLY AGE OF 4 YEARS OLD BY SINGING IN CHURCH CHOIRS AND LATER SPENT HIS HIGH SCHOOL YEARS FORMING AND PLAYING IN ROCK BANDS IN NORTHEAST TEXAS. CARL MINORED IN MUSIC AT UNIVERSITY OF…

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  • Stanley “Stas” Golonka – Living Category – Inducted 2016

    STANLEY “STAS” GOLONKA WAS BORN IN 1944 INTO A POLISH FAMILY IN CHICAGO. HE WAS RAISED IN A POLISH NEIGHBORHOOD, ATTENDED A POLISH SCHOOL, AND LISTENED REGULARLY TO POLISH RADIO PROGRAMS. INSPIRED BY THE MUSIC OF LI’L WALLY, STAS DEVELOPED HIS VOCAL AND DRUMMING SKILLS AND FORMED HIS FIRST BAND,…

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  • Mark Trzepacz – Living Category – Inducted 2015

    Born on November 3, 1956 in Buffalo, NY, Mark Trzepacz was 15 years old when he started taking trumpet lessons. Remarkably, he was performing in his first band only seven months later. Growing up in Buffalo’s heavily-Polish East Side, Mark’s passion for polka music was a foregone conclusion. First playing…

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  • Randy Koslosky – Living Category – Inducted 2015

    Randy Koslosky has made significant contributions to the polka industry as a performer, songwriter, studio musician, producer, and creator of unique polka productions. Born in Pittsburgh in 1962, Randy has been actively performing polka music since 1976. He started with a band formed along with his brother that later became…

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  • Florian Chmielewski – Pioneer Category – Inducted 2015

    Florian Chmielewski is the product of a family that has been synonymous with polka music for six generations. One of 15 children, he was born in Sturgeon Lake, MN on February 10, 1927. As he progressed from a dairy farmer, to County Commissioner, to Minnesota State Senator, Flo-rian always maintained…

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  • Chester Budny – Deceased Category – Inducted 2015

      Born on May 20, 1921 in the “Old Polish” Fleet Avenue neighborhood of Cleveland, OH, Chester Budny became one of the city’s great southside musicians of the 1940s and 1950s. At the young age of 4, he displayed a keen interest in music and was given a violin at…

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  • Kevin Adams – Living Category – Inducted 2014

    Kevin Adams is an accomplished musician, composer, producer and recording artist, having recorded on Trumpet, Clarinet, Guitar and Piano.  His work is featured on over 40 recordings of which 11 have received Grammy® nominations from the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences.  Kevin has been performing polka music across…

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  • Edward “Eddie” Biegaj – Living Category – Inducted 2014

      Eddie was born in Toledo, Ohio to a musical family.  Mother Gina is a trained clarinetist and vocalist while father, Dionysius “Danny” Biegaj played trumpet and sang.  With the help of “Busia” Helen (his maternal grandmother) at a young age Eddie started his love for polka and Polish culture…

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  • Alfred Vrazel – Pioneer Category – Inducted 2014

    Alfred Vrazel was born to parents of Moravian descent on September 6, 1940 on their family farm near Cameron, Texas.  His interest in music started early in life.  At the age of 10 he persuaded his parents into buying him a 2-row Hohner button accordion.  Three years later and after…

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  • Cliff Hermel – Deceased Category – Inducted 2014

        Musician and ballroom owner  Cliff Hermel was born March 18, 1918 in Mankato, Minnesota.  He graduated from high school in 1934 and entered the wholesale business with his father A.H. Hermel.  He was on the road in that business for 17 years, all the while though being very…

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  • Frank Borzymowski – Living Category – Inducted 2013  

    Music has always played an important part of Frank Borzymowski’s life. His first professional gig was at the ripe old age of 14 and it wasn’t long after that all of Baltimore’s Polonia wanted to book Joe and Anita’s boy for their functions. Frank’s high school and college years were…

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  • John Furmaniak – Living Category – Inducted 2013

      John (Foo) Furmaniak (pictured at right with daughter Christy), was born on August 7, 1948 to Thaddeus (Ted) and LaVerne Furmaniak. He is the oldest of their five children. John became infatuated with the accordion at the young age of 10 when a representative of the Mort Herald Accordion…

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  • Tony Petkovsek – Pioneer Category – Inducted 2013

      Tony Petkovsek was born August 21, 1941, in Cleveland, Ohio to parents of Slovenian descent. At age 20 he began what would become the longest running daily two hour polka program, self-produced with his own sponsors. That daily show aired six days a week from 1961 through 2011 and…

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  • Jan Cyman – Deceased Category – Inducted 2013

      In his youth, Jan Cyman was an avid boy scout in his home-town of Buffalo, New York. He also was first music chair at his high school.   The year was 1965, Buffalo, New York. Fifteen-year-old Jan Cyman played the trumpet in school. A couple of good friends, Larry…

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  • Craig Ebel – Living Category – Inducted August 2012

      Craig Ebel has been involved in polka music all his life. Craig grew up in a musical family with his mother, LaVay, singing and playing guitar in country western bands and his father, Elhart, building and operating the Bel-Rae Ballroom in Mounds View, Minnesota, from 1964 to 1971. The…

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  • Wally Dombrowski – Living Category – Inducted August 2012

      Wally Dombrowski’s journey into music began when he started taking trumpet lessons at five years of age. Once he got the basics of the instrument down, it was evident that he could play by ear and would play along with recordings at home without the aid of any written…

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  • Tom “Tommy” Altenburg – Pioneer Category – Inducted August 2012

      Tommy was born and raised on the north side of Chicago near Humboldt Park.  He attended Bernard Moos Grade School and Lane Technical High School.  Shortly after graduating from high school, he served an apprenticeship in the lithography trade, became a journeyman and spent most of his adult life…

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  • Paul Wendinger – Deceased Category – Inducted August 2012

      When one hears “Wendinger,” it is difficult to think of Peter without Paul. “Peter and Paul,” the concertina playing duo, had been a household name in the polka industry for over 47 years. Their partnership began as children playing with their tractors, pretending to be farmers. As they became…

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  • John Gora – Living Category – Inducted 2011

      John Gora was born on July 27, 1959, in Poland and emigrated to Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, with his parents in 1974.   He learned to play clarinet and saxophone in 1977. John formed a musical group “Gorale” catering to “Continental” music crowds and they played their first polka engagements…

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  • Henry “Henny” Jasiewicz – Living Category – Inducted 2011

      Henry David (Henny) Jasiewicz was born in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, on May 22, 1945.   He has performed professionally since he was nine years old and started his polka career playing trumpet for Leo Gibala & The Bell Hops. Henny performed with this group for several years.   In 1979…

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  • Don Peachey – Pioneer Category – 2011

      Don Peachey hails from Burnett, Wisconsin, a small town located an hour from Milwaukee.   He began playing the accordion at the age of 14. Don made his first paying performance at the civic center in Fairwater, Wisconsin. Except for two years in the U.S. Army, he has been…

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  • Johnny Krizancic – Deceased Category – Inducted 2011

      Johnny Krizancic was born March 31, 1929, and at the age of eight years old he started his musical career with the area tamburitzans.   After serving in the Air Force and attending college, he married Martha Dzurinda and performed with many musicians.   In 1960, Johnny and his…

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  • Richie Gomulka – Living Category – Inducted 2010

      Richie Gomulka was born on February 6, 1942, in Chicago, Illinois to first generation American-born parents, Ted and Mary (Owca) Gomulka.   Richie is the oldest of four children. He has two sisters, Angie Gomulka and Dianne (Steve) Paliga, and one brother Lenny (Estelle) Gomulka.   Richie is happily…

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  • Stephanie Pietrzak – Living Category – Inducted 2010

      It all started at the age of seven when Stephanie was being taught the accordion by her mom, Wanda, and the Polish vocals by her grandmother, Stephanie. This created an interest in listening to Polish music. While Henry her father was off bowling, Wanda took Stephanie to see Li’l…

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  • Ted Okrzesik – Pioneer Category – Inducted 2010

        Ted (Thaddeus) Okrzesik was born in Chicago on July 29, 1937, to Joseph Okrzesik and Emily Scieszka Okrzesik. Ted’s dad played the violin and both of his parents enjoyed polka music. His mother said Ted spoke fluent Polish in his early years. Ted was the youngest of three…

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  • Richard Bobinski – Deceased Category – Inducted 2010

      Richard J. Bobinski was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, on January 18, 1939, to Mr. & Mrs. Robert Bobinski.   Rich began playing the trumpet when he was about nine years old after seeing a Harry James movie. His first instructor was Polish and it wasn’t long before he had…

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  • Edward Guca – Living Category – Inducted 2009

      Ed Guca was born on August 7, 1944 to a very musical Polish family in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. His uncle played clarinet in a popular wedding band and was of particular influence in Ed’s love for Polka music. It was in his youth that Ed learned how to play…

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  • Joseph “Joe” Oberaitis – Living Category – Inducted 2009

      As a toddler, Joe Oberaitis was already the polka promoter herding the neighborhood kids together and making them listen to his polka records. By kindergarten, Joe was taking accordion lessons. At age seven, he had already appeared on the local television talent show, “The Gene Carroll Show,” playing Eddie…

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  • Stanley “Stas” Bulanda – Living Category – Inducted 2009

      Stanley “Stas” Bulanda’s love for polka music started at a very early age while listening to the music of his fathers’ and uncles’ polka band.   They would let him sit on the stage and started his musical education. After a few years, they even allowed him to sit…

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  • Eddie Habat – Deceased Category – Inducted 2009

      Eddie Habat was born in Cleveland, Ohio on September 16, 1926, the youngest child of John and Anna Habat. He had two brothers, John and Herman, and two sisters, Betty and Anna. When Eddie was eighteen months old, his mother was tragically killed in an auto accident. His father…

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  • Michael Matousek – Living Category – Inducted 2008

      Michael T. Matousek was born in 1956 into what would become one of Baltimore’s most prominent polka families. His father Al is regarded as one of Maryland’s most celebrated polka accordionists, and his mother, Connie, is recognized as one of the noted polka dance instructors who helped bring the…

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  • Raymond “Ray Jay” Jarusinski – Living Category – Inducted 2008

      Raymond Jarusinski was born on November 3, 1945. He was the youngest of three boys. His parents were John and Blanch Jarusinski. Ray’s ethnic background consisted of his mother being Polish and his father Slovak. As a small boy, Ray enjoyed listening to the Polka radio programs with his…

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  • Teresa Zapolska – Pioneer Category – Inducted 2008

      Teresa Zapolska grew up in Jamaica, New York. During her early years in school, she was taught the piano by the nuns and played for all of the Polish shows held at the school. On the request of her mother, she also began singing and accordion lessons.   At…

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  • William “Wesoly Bolek” Borek – Deceased Category – Inducted 2008

      William (Bill) Borek was born in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, on July 19, 1941, to Joseph and Stella (Socha) Borek. His dad owned and operated a very successful Polonia Bakery in northern Rhode Island for many years, where he and his younger brother Edward would work as kids helping to…

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  • Dennis Polisky – Living Category – Inducted 2007

      Dennis Polisky, leader, clarinet, tenor saxophone player for the Maestro’s Men Orchestra from Colchester, Connecticut, has been performing and entertaining audiences for over 38 years. His dedication, versatility and personality has earned him the recognition as one of the best clarinet players in the polka field today. He credits…

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  • Henry “Hank” Guzevich – Living Category – Inducted 2007

      Back in California, where Hank was born, there was a family that played Mexican music called “Los Taconazos.” About 1970, Gus Guzevich, who was Hank’s father, realized that all of his kids adapted very easily to singing and playing music.   Their style was different than everyone else, maybe…

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  • John Demerski – Pioneer Category – Inducted 2007

      John Demerski is a life-long resident of Forestville, Connecticut. He attended Butler University, the University of Hartford, Central Connecticut State University and has a degree in Industrial Management.   John served in the U.S. Army Infantry and in the Connecticut Army National Guard. He was believed to be the…

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  • Stanley “Wesoły Stas” Lyskawa – Deceased Category – Inducted 2007

      Wesoły Stas was born Stanley Joseph Lyskawa in Chicago on March 15, 1920, to immigrant Polish parents. He grew up in the Back of the Yards community and attended St. John of God, St. Joseph, St. Casimer and St. Pancratius grade schools. He went on to graduate from Kelly…

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  • Eddie Forman – Living Category – Inducted 2006

      Eddie Forman, musician, educator, composer, arranger and polka band leader of the Eddie Forman Orchestra, known to many as EFO, has been promoting polka music since 1968. Eddie was born on June 3, 1953 in Hadley, Massachusetts, His parents, both of Polish descent, exposed him to polka music at…

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  • Jimmy Weber – Living Category – Inducted 2006

      The first time Jimmy went to Fiedor’s Grove to see and hear Eddie Blazonczyk’s Versatones along with Little Ronnie and the Carousels, Jimmy’s interest in polkas began. Starting to play the sax at age twelve, in 1970 at the age of fourteen, he found himself playing polkas with his…

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  • Gary Rhamy – Living Category – Inducted 2006

           Engineer, producer. announcer and owner of Peppermint Productions, Gary Rhamy has engineered four Grammy winning albums. He has produced over 500 albums for more than 175 polka artists alone.   While at Ohio University where Gary (seated at right) received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in…

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  • Adam Barthalt – Pioneer Category – Inducted 2006

      Adam Barthalt was born in Ridgewood, Queens, NY on June 11, 1935. Adams’s deep-rooted interest in music began unpretentiously at the age of three with a toy accordion he received from his grandparents while on a visit with his mother to Europe.   By the time Adam was seven,…

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  • Gary Seibert – Deceased Category – Inducted 2006

      Gary Seibert, originally from Cleveland, Ohio, started playing the accordion at the age of 8. By the age of 12 he started his own two-piece band, resulting in over 60 years of musicianship.   Throughout his school, Gary would play at the local canteen, parties, and of course, local…

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  • Math Sladky – Pioneer Category – Inducted 2005

      Matias “Math” Sladky grew up on a farm near Wahoo, Nebraska. With the love of polka music in his heart, when his folks would go to a dance, he would head straight for the stage where he would sit all evening watching the musicians.   Sladky always wanted to…

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  • Eddie Siwiec – Pioneer Category – Inducted 2005

      Eddie Siwiec began playing polka music in 1969 and continues to this day. He credits his parents, Chester and Catherine, and his uncle, Joe Smiell, renowned musician, composer and bandleader from Oakland, California, with introducing him to the wonderful world of music and dance. Edward is the youngest of…

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  • Freddy “K” Kendzierski – Pioneer Category – Inducted 2005

      Freddy “K” Kendzierski has been a fixture in the polka scene for over thirty-five years. He was born in the Bronx, New York, which was then a mecca for polka music with greats like Bernie Witkowski and Regina Kujawa. At the age of seven, Fred decided he wanted to…

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  • Li’l Richard Towalski – Deceased Category – Inducted 2005

      Li’l Richard Towalski was born in 1942 in Chicago, Illinois. When he was four years old, grandma began taking him to picnics at Caldwell Woods. At age ten, he formed a polka band and started his musical career playing in local clubs, at carnivals, wedding and anniversary parties. All…

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  • Michael Nowakowski – Living Category – Inducted 2004

      Michael Nowakowski of Buffalo, New York has been involved in the Polka Music field for over 38 years. He has been successful in all aspects of the industry.   In his 20 years as President and Executive Producer of the Sunshine Label, Mike has managed all details of the…

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  • Billy Belina – Living Category – Inducted 2004

        Billy Belina has spent a major part of his life playing and promoting polka music. Born in New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1947, Billy has his parents to thank for much of his success in the polka industry. In his early years, Billy often joined his parents on the…

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  • Lou Trebar – Pioneer Category – Inducted 2004

      Lou Trebar authored one of the Cleveland-Style Polka’s most impressive careers. A true dean of Cleveland­-Style music, Lou’s credits included over sixty quality years of professional performances beginning at age 13; over forty years as a composer/arranger and adapter of Cleveland-Style music; leading his own orchestras from 1936-1950; co-owning…

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  • Thomas Karas – Deceased Category – Inducted 2004

      Thomas Anthony (Tommy) Karas was born March 28, 1946 in Buffalo, New York. He was the eldest of four children born to Anthony J. and Carrie M. (Bieniek) Karas. Both sets of grandparents were Polish immigrants. His father was a steel worker at Bethlehem Steel and his mother was…

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  • Jackie Libera – Living Category – Inducted 2003

      Jackie Libera of Charlton, Massachusetts is a musician, former bandleader, deejay, arranger, vocalist, recorded many albums, and a featured performer with various bands.   To say that John “Jackie” Libera has been involved with polka music virtually all his life is an understatement.   Jackie began his polka music…

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  • Hank Haller – Living Category – Inducted 2003

      Hank Haller of Westlake, Ohio, is a musician, vocalist, bandleader, deejay, has made numerous recordings and leads a traveling band.   Mention Hank Haller and visions of oompah music and “lederhosen” [short leather pants], come to mind.  But Haller is more.  He is a very prolific recording artist in…

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  • Roger Bright – Deceased Category – Inducted 2003

      Roger Bright of New Glarus, Wisconsin, was a musician, bandleader, recording artist, deejay and performer.   Roger Bright was born February 12, 1937, and died August 28, 2001, at Boulder Colorado Community Hospital from a heart attack he suffered while performing at a polka festival in Boulder.   Roger…

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  • Wally Maduzia – Living Category – Inducted 2002

    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…

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  • Don Lucki – Living Category – Inducted 2002

      Don Lucki was born July 18, 1933 to Michael and Janet Lucki.  Don’s polka career started as a teenager with the original Li’l Wally Orchestra.  The ensemble consisted of Li’l Wally on the drums & vocals, Eddie Noga on clarinet & alto sax, Casey Siewierski on concertina & Don…

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  • Eddie Zavaski – Deceased Category – Inducted 2002

      Eddie Zavaski was born in January 31, 1924 in Rocky Hill, Connecticut, (8 miles South of Hartford) to Stanley & Pauline Zavaski.  While growing up as a child he was very much influenced by music.  Since he was first generation American born, his mother Pauline was instrumental in encouraging…

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  • Johnny Karas – Living Category – Inducted 2001

    Johnny Karas, lead vocalist and tenor saxophone for the Jimmy Sturr Band, has regaled audiences with his virtuosity for over forty years.  His intensity, versatility and creativity on the tenor sax have resulted in most observers describing him as one of, if not the best saxophonist ever in the polka…

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  • Eddie Skinger – Living Category – Inducted 2001

        The gifted Eddie Skinger has always been clear about his commitment to his vocation.  Over the past 62 years, he has become an accomplished and respected vocalist, musician, arranger and composer.  His talent and ability shine through his music and can easily be considered as one of the…

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  • Adolph Lesser – Pioneer Category – Inducted 2001

      Adolph Lesser’s colorful career as a musician and entertainer spanned some sixty-five years before his stroke in 1996.  Adolph remains one of the most prominent musical figures in the Rocky Mountain region and is affectionately known as the “Old Master”.   Born in Loveland, Colorado in 1915, Adolph was…

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  • Rev. Walter Szczypula – Deceased Category – Inducted 2001

    Father Wally, as he was affectionately known, was one of eight children born to St. Louis and Magdeline Szczypula on September 22, 1916.  He was born and raised in Chicago where he attended Five Holy Martyrs grammar school.  He went on to Quigley Preparatory Seminary and then to St. Mary…

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  • Richie Tokarz – Living Category – Inducted 2000

      Uniquely, making his name as a sideman, Richie Tokarz is well known particularly in the Polish sector of polka music. Through the years he has demonstrated his talents playing the accordion, trumpet and singing with top polka bands. Also, his efforts as a musical writer have always scored high…

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  • Al Piatkowski – Living Category – Inducted 2000

      Polka music has been a part of Al Piatkowski’s life as long as he colud remember.  Born in Syracuse, NY on January 17, 1959, Al grew up listening to the Sunday polka programs.  His parents, Mike and Gloria, would attend the local polka dances and bring home the latest…

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  • Frankie “Gee” Grybosh – Deceased Category – Inducted 2000  

    Frank Grybosh had been a polka musician for 18 years and led a 6-piece orchestra under the name of “Frankie Gee” before he was tragically killed on January 1, 1970.   Frank Grybosh was born in Ludlow, Massachusetts on October 9, 1936, and was the only child of Wanda (Topor)…

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  • Henry “Will” Wilczynski – Inducted 2000

    Henry “Will” Wilczynski has dedicated 53 years to music as an arranger, composer, teacher and musician. He has written and arranged for some of the greatest polka bands and shows of all time including: Jimmy Sturr (Jimmy’s 10 Grammy award recordings and Christmas shows), Myron Floren, Walt Solek, Dick Pillar,…

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  • Keith G. Stras – Living Category – Inducted 1999

      Keith Stras was born in Chicago, on October 9, 1961. At an early age, Stras seemed to be interested in entertaining people. His late Uncle Ned Locke, a 25 year veteran of Chicagoland television and radio, was responsible for Stras being bitten by the limelight bug. Ned, a Circus…

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  • Joey Miskulin – Living Category – Inducted 1999

      Joey Miskulin is one of Cleveland-Style Polkas’ greatest pillars of musical talent. Plying his many skills in a myriad of ways. Joey has enhanced the quality of Cleveland-style music far and wide.   In his most memorable role, Joey, the child prodigy discovered by Chicago’s Roman Possedi, became Frank…

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  • Jerry Goetsch – Pioneer Category – Inducted 1999

      It all started when Jerry Goetsch was a small child, his dad played in a band in the area and his sister and brother also played musical instruments. At 12 or 13 years of age, he began to fall in love with the top polka bands at that time,…

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  • Wanda “Koziol” Pietrzak – Deceased Category – Inducted 1999

      Wanda S. Pietrzak was a singer who achieved national acclaim in polka music’s only mother and daughter team, “Wanda and Stephanie.”   As half of “Wanda and Stephanie”, known as “American’s Polka Sweethearts,” she recorded many albums. She scored a #1 polka hit in 1971 with a song she…

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  • Frank Liszka – Living Category – Inducted 1998

      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…

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  • Matt Wasielewski – Living Category – Inducted 1998

      As far back as Matt can remember, he had a love of polka music. When he was just a small boy, there were polkas playing the home form morning to night. No one in the family played a musical instrument, but Matt had a love for the accordion and…

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  • Eddie Korosa – Pioneer Category – Inducted 1998

      Few can equal the contributions made by Eddie Korosa in popularizing polka music. Eddie has left his mark across the entertainment spectrum, inspiring new generations of polka lovers along the way.   Eddie Korosa was born in the Southwest side of Chicago in 1918; a first generation American of…

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  • John “Jas” Przasnyski – Deceased Category – Inducted 1998

      John (Jas) Stanley Przasnyski was born a twin on May 25, 1926, in Bristol, Connecticut. John was the eldest of the two boys.   After World War II, John attended the Julius Hartt School of Music in Hartford and learned to play the drums. From the point, he was…

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  • Joseph (Joe) P. Fedorchak – Living Category – Inducted 1997

      Respected as a staunch advocate of Slovenian and the Cleveland Style Polka Music, Joe has performed throughout the continental United States, Canada, Hawaii, Mexico and Alaska. He is recognized for his consistent and unselfish support for efforts toward the further enhancement and perpetuation of the Cleveland style polka movement.…

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  • Jerry Darlak – Living Category – Inducted 1997

      Jerry M. Darlak has devoted his whole life to the promotion of polka music. In his many years as a working musician, he has performed and recorded with the nation’s most prestigious polka orchestras. His love of polka music is indisputable. He continued this tradition with his own band…

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  • Chet Gulinski – Pioneer Category – Inducted 1997

      The First Chet Gulinski Show was broadcast at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, November 5, 1995. Since that time, many thousand Chet Gulinski Shows were broadcast. Approaching its 43rd anniversary, The Chet Gulinski Show was broadcast Sundays at 9:30 a.m. and at 11 a.m. over WNDZ (750AM), a 5,000-watt station that…

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  • Joe Rock – Deceased Category – Inducted 1997

        Joe Rock, drummer boy extraordinaire, rising as perhaps one of the finest big band recording orchestras on the East Coast, began his career in the music field in the late 1930’s, in the greater Waterbury area, as the drummer in the Herb Lukowski Orchestra. His love and desire…

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  • Ray Dorschner – Living Category – Inducted 1996

      Ray Dorschner was born in the tiny village of Ziattau, Wisconsin, one of seven children born to Theodore and Berta Dorschner. Theodore owned and operated a sawmill and woodworking business in Zittau and was an old-time fiddler. Dad and sons occasionally played for local parties and dances. Ray started…

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  • Carl Rohwetter – Living Category – Inducted 1996

      Carl Rohwetter was born March 1, 1930, the son of John and Elizabeth Rohwetter in Marion Township, County of Saginaw, Michigan. His father played the button accordion, as so many did in the farming area. Carl along with his brothers, John and Francis were always entertained with Polka Music.…

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  • Vi Johantgen – Pioneer Category – Inducted 1996

      Vi Johantgen was born on September 24, 1915 in Chicago, Illinois. Her parents, Stanley and Marie Patla were born in Rzesow, Poland. Her father was a violinist and her mother was a singer of Polish Folk Songs. At the age of five, Vi started to sing and at the…

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  • Bill Czupta – Deceased Category – Inducted 1996

      Bill Czupta was an acclaimed musician and formidable accordionist. He learned to play the accordion at an early age, and became a member of the group known as Bobby Sawicki and the New Englanders. Bill resided in Massachusetts, and in 1970 he joined The Golden Brass, which soon became…

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  • Andy “Day” Dziagwa, Jr. – Living Category – Inducted 1995

      Fifty years is a long time. During that time span Andy has entertained polka fans throughout the United States with a distinctive style of musical talent all his own. Andy “Day” Dziagwa started his polka career in 1942 at the age of fourteen. He started to perform on trumpet…

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  • Michael “Mitch” Biskup – Living Category – Inducted 1995

    Michael “Mitch” Biskup born in Montreal Canada, joined a new polka band back in 1969 called the Golden Brass, which soon became one of the top five polka bands in the nation and in 1971 captured the “Triple Crown” by winning the IPA Awards for Best LP, “Let The Sunshine…

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  • Adam Nowicki – Pioneer Category – Inducted 1995

      Adam Nowicki, born on February 6, 1921 in Conshohocken, PA was the oldest of five children. During the Depression the family moved to Trenton, NJ in 1926 with the hopes of finding work. As a student and parishioner of Holy Cross Church, he developed an early love for polish…

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  • Sylvester “Shep” Wolan – Deceased Category – Inducted 1995

      Sylvester Wolan was born in Salem, Massachusetts, on March 8, 1904. During his youth he studied violin and trumpet with his father, but was also under the tutelage of professors and symphony musicians where he learned not only to play but compose. In 1918 he started to teach and…

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  • Larry Walk – Living Category – Inducted 1994

    George Lesnansky, a business promotion student at Youngstown University had an idea for a new image in polka programming which he felt was needed to update the image of polka radio shows. In May of 1964, the radio career of Larry “Polka’ Walk was born. An idea and determination and…

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  • Dave “Scrubby” Seweryniak – Living Category – Inducted 1994

      An explosive entertainer, polka dynamite, and charged with TNT describes one of the 1994 Polka Music Hall of Fames inductees. Born on the Fourth of July and growing up on the East Side of Buffalo, known as the city’s Polonia, “Scrubby” was exposed to polka music at a very…

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  • Chester “Chet” Zablocki – Pioneer Category – Inducted 1994

      “Still going strong after 47 years,” best describes Chet Zablocki. His “Polish Festival” radio program is still in the same time slot on WTOD – 8:30 a.m. until 12:00 noon. In the late ’50s and early ’60s the show was heard seven days a week, and later changed to…

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  • Lawrence Welk – Deceased Category – Inducted 1994

      The late Lawrence Welk is no stranger to millions of people. Through his efforts the polka and the accordion have become two items that have always been identified with making people happy.   Welk was born to immigrant parents in March of 1903, in a farmhouse near Strasburg, North…

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  • Virginia Seretny – Living Category – Inducted 1993

      It was 1960 when it all started for Virginia Seretny on a small community radio station WILI in Williamantic, Conn. As a result of an association with a friend named Homer who was employed as a newscaster and Sunday morning DJ at the station who enjoyed polka music and…

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  • Stanley Przasnyski – Living Category – Inducted 1993

      Born in 1926 in Bristol Connecticut, he started to study the accordion at age ten while attending St. Stanislaus School. At the age of thirteen he was playing professionally at social affairs, concert solos, and private parties. He started a four-piece band at the age of eighteen. A typical…

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  • Fred Hudy – Living Category – Inducted 1993

      Fred Hudy’s introduction to music was at the age of 10 when a representative of the Midwest Accordion School visited SS. Peter and Paul School on Chicago’s Southwest side. Practicing daily, he soon joined his first polka band with Richie Gomulka and Louie Jedlowski called “Little Louie and the…

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  • Chet Dragon – Pioneer Category – Inducted 1993

      At the age of 12 Chet had a couple of neighbors that were musicians one played the clarinet, the other the accordion. Chet knew that if he purchased a trumpet he would be asked to join them. Chet’s family couldn’t afford to just purchase one for him outright, so…

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  • Tom Mrozinski – Deceased Category – Inducted 1993

      The late Tom Mrozinski of Minnesota, leader of The Mrozinski Brothers Aleatoric Ensemble, started his polka career at the age of 11, when he took up the clarinet and started to sit in with his dad’s band at age 12. It wasn’t long before other musicians noticed Tom’s Talent…

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  • Bill Czerniak – Living Category – Inducted 1992

      Bill Czerniak was born on June 20th, 1946, to Martha and Joe Czerniak–Joe is a 1989 inductee to the Polka Hall of Fame–of Duluth, Minnesota. At the age of six, Bill began taking concertina lessons from his father. Within a couple of years, Bill was making appearances with his…

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  • Fred Bulinski – Living Category – Inducted 1992

      Having been raised in an ethnic community in Niagara Falls, New York undoubtedly had something to do with Freddie Bulinski’s early exposure to and fascination with Polka music. He was born February 5, 1947 to Fred and Martha Bulinski, the eldest of three children. His sister, Suzanne is administrative…

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  • Ernie Kucera – Pioneer Category – Inducted 1992

      With the unique sound of an accordion and the oom pah pah of the tuba, “Abie”, Nebraska’s Ernie Kucera and his band has been entertaining people with polka music for the past fifty years. Kucera first started playing drums in his brother’s band, The Kucera Accordion Band in 1938.…

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  • Jan Robak – Deceased Category – Inducted 1992

      Jan Robak was born in Poland on December 1, 1890, and passed away on September 8, 1967. He came to this country and Chicopee, Massachusetts with his violin at the age of ten. He started to play the violin in Poland and continued his study of violin and music…

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  • Chet Kowalkowski – Living Category – Inducted 1991

      Destined to be a prominent figure in the polka circuit, Chet Kowalkowski began his musical career with the accordion at the age of eight. At twelve, he already won his first merit of achievement for the accordion on the John Nieminski WOPA Polka Show. After entering high school, he…

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  • Joe Marcissuk – Living Category – 1991

    Joe Marcissuk was born in Hamtramck, Michigan. After high school he joined the Armed Forces spending two years in World War II. In 1946 he married Wanda Kawucha and had three children, Patricia, Ronald and Sandra.   In September 1958, he engaged in his first polka promotion. Obtaining sponsorship from…

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  • John Check – Pioneer Category – Inducted 1991

      John Check was born near Rosholt, Wisconsin.  When he was 14, he had saved a total of $15 from picking cucumbers on his father’s farm and used this money to purchase his first single reed concertina.  Within several days he had learned to play several simple melodies.  Buying additional…

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  • Henry Jasiewicz – Deceased Category – Inducted 1991

      By age 12, Henry Jasiewicz discovered his love for music and was practicing with a muted trumpet in his basement, often while his parents were sleeping.  In the years that followed, he also spent as much time as possible learning the violin.  His musical career began in the 1930’s. …

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  • Myron Floren – Living Category – Inducted 1990

      The 1990 honorees to the Living Category of the Polka Music Hall of Fame were two individuals who have both in their own ways made great strides in the promotion and advancement of polka music.   Myron Floren is a highly recognized name in the entertainment world besides his…

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  • “Jolly” Joe Timmer – Living Category – Inducted 1990

        Jolly Joe Timmer of of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, has a radio show, television show, polka band, music store and picnic grove all strongly promoting polka music.  When asked when and how he became involved in polka music Joe said, “My time started after high school, 1948.   Before he…

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  • Norman Marggraff, “Fritz the Plumber” – Pioneer Category – Inducted 1990

      Rock ‘N’ Roll may be here to stay, but so is polka music, according to Norman Marggraff.  Marggraff should know: For over 40 years he has made a living spinning “oompah”-type records on the radio.  If the name Marggraff doesn’t ring a bell, perhaps his other name, Fritz the…

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  • Brunon (Bruce) Kryger – Deceased Category – Inducted 1990

      Bruce Kryger has been playing with his own band since 1954.  In 1962 he joined with his brother Lucian and formed what became known as the Kryger Brothers Band.  Bruce played the cordovox accordion and composed many of the arrangements for the band.  The band had several hit recordings…

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  • Verne Meisner – Living Category – Inducted 1989

      The musical story of Verne Meisner began in 1949 when Verne, at the age of eleven, received his first accordion and twelve lessons.  Verne attended dances and listened to the music of Frank Yankovic and the Six Fat Dutchmen on his wind up phonograph.  In a few months Verne…

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  • Lucian Kryger – Living Category – Inducted 1989

      As a teenager Lucian Kryger had recorded several 78 RPM recordings with his father’s orchestra (Brunon Kryger) on the Harmonia Label of N.Y. In 1951 Lucian, Jerry and brother Bruce recorded two 78 rpm recordings for Polo Records.  One of the hit sides was entitled, “Little Boy Oberek.”  Lucian…

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  • Joe Czerniak – Pioneer Category – Inducted 1989

      Joseph F. Czerniak of Duluth, Minnesota, was elected to the polka Music Hall of Fame in the Pioneer category.  Joe was inducted along with other inductees, on Saturday, August 5, during the annual International Polka Association Convention and Festival, at the Ramada O’Hare Hotel, in Chicago.   Joe Czerniak…

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  • Kenny Bass – Deceased Category – Inducted 1989

      Kenny Bass (Peter Bastasic, Jr.) was considered one of the all time polka greats that made Cleveland the great polka center that it is.  Since 1948 he had hosted radio programs on local area stations including former WSRS, WJMO, WBKC, WELW, WLYT and currently on the Chardon station.  …

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  • Lenny Gomulka – Living Category – Inducted 1988

      Lenny Gomulka at age 5 took an immediate interest in polka music.  He especially liked the drums which he self-taught himself in spare time.  His formal training began at age 11 when inspired by his mother to take trumpet instruction.   Before organizing his own polka band, Lenny spent…

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  • Johnny Haas – Living Category – Inducted 1988

      The words Polka Music and Johnny Haas are synonymous.  It is rare that one is said without the other, for this man of worldwide fame was polka.  But let’s find out more about this legend.   Johnny Haas said he was half-Polish and half-Pennsylvania Dutch, and he used his…

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  • Al Grebnick – Pioneer Category – Inducted 1988

      It was a long hard haul for Al Grebnick, Nebraska Polka King, (1978), who grew up in the “dirty thirties,” on a farm.   With only an eighth grade education behind him, because the family could neither afford to board him out or buy him a car so that…

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  • Joseph F. Struzik – Deceased Category – Inducted 1988

      Joe was born on January 29, 1941, in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.  During his early childhood, his family moved to Blackstone, MA, where he was educated and graduated from the local High School.  He subsequently received his Bachelor’s Degree in History and Government from Boston College and a Masters Degree…

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  • Johnny Vadnal – Living Category – Inducted 1987

      Even to aficionados, most polka bands sound familiar.  If you tune in to the middle of a song on the radio, you will have a hard time distinguishing one band from another.   This is not true of the Johnny Vadnal Orchestra.  It has always had a unique sound,…

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  •  Emily Pinter – Living Category – Inducted 1987

      Emily Pinter began her music and dancing at the early age of five, studying piano, ballet and tap dancing.  At age 16, while dancing with the Alliance of Polish Clubs group, the dancing instructor took ill, and Emily was asked to take over the class.  The following year she…

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  • Johnny Menko – Pioneer Category – Inducted 1987

      Johnny Menko was born in Windsor Locks, Connecticut on June 13, 1915, and lived in Warehouse Point, Connecticut, during his earlier years.  At the age of nine, Johnny was already paying the violin with Polish records on a phonograph.   Johnny graduated from Enfield High School in Thompsonville, CT,…

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  • Jolly Jack Robel – Deceased Category – Inducted 1987

      John Michael Robel was born in Austria February 14, 1903.  His parents, John and Mary, were Austrian immigrants of Slovak descent, who settled in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  He took his first music lessons on a clarinet from Tommy Dorsey, Sr.  Later, John played with Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey in the…

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  • Matt Hoyer – Deceased Category – Inducted 1987

      One of the best-loved American Slovenian performers on the button accordion was Matt Arko Hoyer, the “granddaddy” of the button accordion players and pioneer performer of Slovenian polka and waltz music.  Matt was born in Slovenia in 1891.  He came to the U.S. in 1911 and settled in Cleveland.…

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  • Antonina Blazonczyk – Deceased Category – Inducted 1987

    Antoinette Blazonczyk was born and raised in the southern mountainous part of Poland in a village called Chocholow.  Also known as “Gazdzina z Chocholowa” – Antoinette was a “goralka” and extremely proud of her Polish Heritage.   Back in the 1940’s Antoinette Blazonczyk recorded four 78 rpm records as a…

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  • Bruno Mikos – Living Category – Inducted 1986

      Bruno’s singing career began early.  He learned to sing the “Two Bucks Polka” at the age of five as he heard the song played on the Oskierko Polka Show over WJOB Radio in Hammond, Indiana.   During his grammar schools days he tried to play the accordion.  He did…

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  • Walt Groller – Living Category – Inducted 1986

             Walt Groller was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania on February 12, 1931.  His parents were Austrian immigrants.  At four years of age, they bought him a small accordion.  He was a self taught musician who picked up the Austrian folk songs his mother sang to him.  …

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  • Bruno “Junior” Zielinski – Pioneer Category – Inducted 1986

      Born in Jaslo, Poland in 1911, Bruno Z. Zielinski came to this country with his mother, Anna, as a one- year-old boy.  They joined his father Zygmunt, who had earlier settled in Chicago’s neighborhood of Bridgeport.  After elementary education at St. Barbara Parish Catholic School, he attended Harrison High…

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  • Pat Watters – Deceased Category – Inducted 1986

      The life of Pat Watters spanned a time period that included driving mules across Texas to jet trips to Europe. Music provided a living and a career for him and a brighter life for those he touched. Born in Dallas County, Texas in 1902, his childhood was spent in…

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  • Larry Chesky – Living Category – Inducted 1985

      Since his birth November 17, 1933, Larry Chesky has resided in Holyoke, Massachusetts.  Thanks to his parents, Wanda and Joe, Larry was introduced to music at the age of six.  He was given his first accordion.  Whenever you saw Larry, you saw that accordion.  They were inseparable.  With the…

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  • Joe Wojkiewicz – Living Category – Inducted 1985

      Joe Wojkiewicz was born in Hafa Park, Wisconsin.  By the time he entered school, he was already performing on stage.  As his desire grew to perform, so did his talents.  He became interested in the polka music field as his father had a band.   Joe got started with…

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  • Stanley J. Jasinski – Pioneer Category – Inducted 1985

      Stanley J. Jasinski, one of Buffalo’s most outstanding public figures in the field of broadcasting, was born August 25, 1915 in Detroit, Michigan.   While still in high school as an amateur actor and script writer, Stanley began his broadcasting career.  As opportunity would have it, one day in…

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  • Cousin Fuzzy – Deceased Category – Inducted 1985

      Born Earl McNellis, on a farm in Millville, Minnesota, he attended schools at Hyde Park, Millville, and Lake City.  He was a pioneer in television musical programs, starting out in the 1940’s with a vaudeville group known as Uncle Louie and the Town Hall Players.  When Uncle Louie left,…

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  • Jimmy Sturr – Living Category – Inducted 1984

      Today’s most eligible polka bachelor is Jimmy Sturr.  He is Irish, earns big figures a year and owns a radio station.   At the ripe old age of thirteen, Jimmy was off and playing.  The first bookings were those classical traditional, all-out, three-day Polish weddings.  That kind of experience…

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  • Bernie Goydish – Living Category – Inducted 1984

      Bernie Goydish has been an active member of the polka community for more than 28 years.  He is a musician, bandleader, promoter, record manufacturer, distributor, and polka disc jockey.  He introduced more young new polka bands to the field than anyone else.  His Sunday polka radio show is the…

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  • Charlie Hicks – Pioneer Category – Inducted 1984

     Charlie Hicks is a pioneer in the polka field from the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area.  At eighteen years of age, he already displayed his musical talent by playing accordion.  In 1930 he formed a small dance band.  In 1937 he made his first recording for RCA Victor.  He then joined the…

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  • Fezz Fritsche Deceased Category – Inducted 1984

      Born in 1908, Victor “Fezz” Fritsche started his own band in 1940.  He used seven men mostly, sometimes three or four.  In the early 50’s, he had the “Fezz Fritsche Show” on KNUJ radio in New Ulm, Minnesota.  He called his orchestra the “Goosetown Band”.  Fezz sprung out of…

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  • Johnny Hyzny – Living Category – Inducted 1983

      Johnny Hyzny was born in Chicago, Illinois April 25, 1930 to Joe and Ann Hyzny.  They also had another son named Joe, who played the accordion at a very early age.  John’s father figured that if Joe learned to play the accordion, John could learn from him.  But John…

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  • Walter Ostanek – Living Category – Inducted 1983

      Ladislav John Ostanek was born of Yugoslavian parents on April 20, in Duperquet, Quebec, an only child.  When he was five years old, his family moved to the St. Catharines area.  At the age of nine, Walter began playing the Button Diatonic accordion.  Without formal training, he progressed at…

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  • Eddie Oskierko – Pioneer Category – Inducted 1983

     There can be little doubt about Eddie Oskierko being a pioneer in radio and in the early formative years of polka music.  The history of his career can be summarized in one word:  “determination.”  When Ed started his radio career in October 1930, at station WJKS, he found that the…

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  • Lawrence Duchow – Deceased Category – Inducted 1983

      Lawrence Duchow started his musical career in 1932 playing with Hal’s Bluebirds out of Chilton, Wisconsin.  Their first job was for a dance at Kleist’s Hall in Potter, Wisconsin.  Lawrence took over the operation reins in 1933 and called it the Lawrence Duchow and his Red Raven Inn Orchestra…

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  • Happy Louie Dusseault – Living Category – Inducted 1982

      Happy Louie was born August 4, 1934 in Ware, Massachusetts.  His mother is Polish and living.  His father was French, and is deceased.   At the age of nine, he played his first note on a Bugle and then changed to a B-flat Trumpet and has kept it up…

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  • Johnny Libera – Living Category – Inducted 1982

      He was born on April 20, 1919, in Southbridge, Massachusetts, where he still lives.  It seems that Polka music has been a part of his life as long as he can remember.  His singing was inherited from his mother, who was a polka contest winner in Southbridge, twice.  …

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  • Joe Fiedor – Deceased Category – Inducted 1982

     Joe was born in Mt. Pleasant Township, Pennsylvania, on February 26, 1931.  He graduated from Hurst High School in 1948.   Joe was always attracted to Polka music and it is easy to understand why he would become an outstanding Polka promoter.  With a strong determination and the use of…

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  • Ray Stolzenberg – Living Category – Inducted 1981

      In 1933, a fresh 18-year old country kid named Ray Stolzenberg launched his band, The Northern Playboys, at a dance in LeRoy, Minnesota.  From small community dance halls they went on the road to playing in ballrooms from St. Paul to Cedar Rapids, from Kansas to Chicago for the…

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  • Casey Siewierski – Living Category – Inducted 1981

      Casey was born in Chicago, Illinois on February 25, 1921.  At the age of seven, he began concertina lessons whenever he had money.  At the age of eleven, Casey played his first wedding, along with his father and brothers, Eddie and John, who were also musicians.  When Casey’s father…

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  • Lou Prohut – Deceased Category – Inducted 1981

      Lou Prohut was born in Chicago where he attended local parochial schools and began studying the accordion almost as soon as he learned to walk.  His talents led him to an appearance on the famed Morris B. Sachs Amateur Hour when he was a mere five years old.  After…

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  • Johnnie Bomba – Living Category – Inducted 1980

      Johnnie Bomba was born in Chicago.  While in the 4th grade at Sacred Heart School.  He started playing clarinet with the school band.  In 7th grade he already played with local dance bands, and in 8th grade formed his own group.  In De La Salle High School he was…

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  • Stan E. Saleski – Living Category – Inducted 1980

      Stan was born in South Meriden, Connecticut in 1910.  He attended St. Stanislaus School, and after finishing 7th grade, his parents told him they needed some financial support, and Stan had to go to work at age 13.  He worked at various jobs:  in a silver factory, for a…

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  • Ted Maksymowicz – Deceased Category – Inducted 1980

      Ted was born in New York of Polish parentage.  While attending Commerce High School, he began his first formal study of music at 13, and formed his first band shortly thereafter in 1935.  He played violin and trumpet.   During the 1939-1940 World’s Fair, Ted played at the Polish…

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  • Al Soyka – Living Category – Inducted 1979

     Al Soyka was born May 6, 1922 in Rockville, Connecticut.  At the early age of thirteen the Soyka Trio was formed with Al on the accordion, brother Ray on vocals and cousin Ed on the violin.  The group entered a local talent show and won first prize, which was a…

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  • Marv Herzog – Living Category – Inducted 1979

      Born in Frankenmuth, Michigan, on August 9, 1932, lived there until his decease.  Having a natural affinity to music, at age 12 he began playing a forty-eight bass accordion, then acquired his own and played his first job the following New Year’s Eve.  With his father, Otto Herzog, playing…

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  • Romy Gosz – Deceased Category – Inducted 1979

    Roman (Romy) Gosz was born on August 2, 1910.  He took his first piano lesson at age 7.  At 11 he joined his father Paul, and his two brothers, George and Mike, in the Gosz family orchestra in 1921.  In 1930 Romy took over the band.  When he lost his…

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  • “Joe Pat” Paterek – Living Category – Inducted 1978

      “Joe Pat” Paterek was born in Chicago to Joseph and Mary Paterek on May 21, 1919.  His father was of Slovak ancestry and his mother was of Polish origin.  Joe became interested in music at an early age and began taking music lessons while attending local schools.  After developing…

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  • Alvin C. Sajewski – Living Category – Inducted 1978

     When it comes to polka music the name of Sajewski is a household word, representing an association of over 80 years in the annals of Polish and polka music in America.  Alvin Sajewski carried on the tradition established by his father, who opened their first music store in 1897 in…

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  • Ignacy Podgorski – Deceased Category – Inducted 1978

      Ignacy Podgorski was a musician, composer, arranger, publisher, recording artist and violinist who conducted his own orchestra.  He was born on February 1, 1886 in Kielce, Poland.  As a boy he lived in Czestochowa where he obtained his musical education and acquired a love for native folk-lore.   In…

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  • Leon Kozicki – Living Category – Inducted 1977

     Leon J. Kozicki was born on July 4, 1930 in Chicago.  He attended grammar school at St. Peter and Paul’s at which time he first became exposed to music when his father presented him with a button accordion one Christmas.  As a youngster he became ill with pneumonia and upon…

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  • Joe Lazarz – Living Category – Inducted 1977

    In the early days of polka music, what Alvin Sajewski was to Chicago … Ignacy Podgorski to Philadelphia … Brunon Kryger to Eastern Pennsylvania … Joe Lazarz was to the Northeast.  Born in 1895 in the village of Swiebodzin, Poland, he started music lessons at an early age, as his…

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  • Brunon Kryger – Deceased Category – Inducted 1977

    Brunon Kryger was born in Lodz, Poland in 1899.  From early childhood his ambition was to be an entertainer.  The outbreak of W.W.I. dampened his career for a short time for he had to serve 3 years and 4 months in the Polish Army.  After his discharge he studied at…

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  • Chet Schafer – Living Category – Inducted 1976

      The polka career of Chet Schafer began in 1950, when, together with Li’l Wally Jagiello, their voices were heard on a half-hour polka program on radio station WCRW in Chicago.  But things didn’t roll for Chet until he started his own “Polka Hit Parade” program on station WTAQ, LaGrange,…

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  • Dick Rodgers – Living Category – Inducted 1976

      The Dick Rodgers International TV Recording Orchestra was organized in 1945 when Dick formed a band comprised of high school students.  Within a few years the band was doing live radio broadcasts and made their first recording in Chicago.  From recordings and radio the next step in promoting the…

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  • “Whoopee John” Wilfahrt – Deceased  Category – Inducted 1976

      John Anthony Wilfahrt, better known as “Whoopee John” Wilfahrt, was born in 1893 on a farm near New Ulm, Minnesota.  His grandparents, Joseph Wilfahrt and Franzeska Hauser, migrated to America in March, 1867, with three of their children and settled on  a farm in Sigel Township, a few miles…

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  • Harold Loeffelmacher – Living Category – Inducted 1975

      Harold Loeffelmacher was born in 1905 on a farm in Mollet county near Fort Ridgely of frontier days.  He moved to New Ulm, with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Loeffelmacher.  He took his first music lesson on a violin from a Lutheran minister.  He graduated from the violin…

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  • Steve Adamczyk – Living Category – Inducted 1975

    Steve Adamczyk was born in Chicago, the eldest of four children of the late Stephen and Lottie (nee Kazanecki) Adamczyk.  His parents introduced Steve to music at an early age, enrolling him as a student of piano, his first teachers being the Felician Sisters of SS. Peter and Paul Parish. …

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  • Johnny Pecon – Deceased Category – Inducted 1975

      Johnny Pecon was born on February 3, 1915 in Cleveland.  At age five he began playing on a small accordion.  In his teens he already sat in with some of the Slovenian polka bands.  At age 19 he formed his own polka band.   Johnny joined the Navy in…

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  • Walt Solek – Living Category – Inducted 1974

      Walt Solek got his first break with the “Krakowska” orchestra organized by his brother Henry.  In 1939 after recording with them on the RCA Victor label, he organized his own polka band mixing good polka music and good comedy.  In 1940 Uncle Sam called him into the Navy and…

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  • Dick Pillar – Living Category – Inducted 1974

      Two words that are virtually synonymous to thousands of fans throughout the country are “polka” and “Pillar,” like celery and salt they were made for each other.  Born 34 years ago to Joseph and Stella Pillar Pillar of Uncasville, Connecticut, Richard has been setting toes a-tapping since 1958 when…

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  • Marisha Data – Deceased Category – Inducted 1974

      She was known in the polka field for her song hits “Wishing Well Waltz” and “Violins Play For Me”; but she was also known in the radio and stage field as a radio announcer, operatic and concert singer and a comedienne.  Gifted with a great voice and acting talent,…

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  • Ray Budzilek – Living Category – Inducted 1973

      Ray is the son of Frank and Lottie Budzilek, who were both born in Warsaw, Poland.  He played polka music at about 8 years of age on a toy piano.  He then switched to accordion and began playing at weddings.   He organized a musical aggregation in his late…

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  • Gene Wisniewski – Living Category – Inducted 1973

      Gene Wisniewski, was the son of Polish immigrants who settled in Connecticut where his dad, a tailor, worked in the weaving Mills in Manchester.  At the age of 15, with three months of instruction on the accordion, he played his first jobs at weddings and taverns with his two…

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  • Mattie Madura – Deceased Category – Inducted 1973

    Mattie Madura’s musical career began with an old broken violin given to Mattie’s father by an old friend.  With time and bits of wire and glue, it was pieced together.  When it was finished he gave it to his younger son, Mattie.  From then on Mattie was “that boy with…

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  • Marion Lush – Living Category – Inducted 1972

      Marion Lush was born in 1931.  He began playing accordion at the age of 8, then took up drums, followed by trumpet.  At age 16 he joined the American Federation of Musicians.  Appearing regularly on the Ron Terry Polka Show on WGN-TV for eight years, he was voted “Chicago’s…

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  • Ray Henry – Living Category – Inducted 1972

      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…

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  • Eddie Zima – Deceased Category – Inducted 1972

      Eddie Zima was born in 1923 in Chicago and began playing the concertina when he was 6 years old.  His mother, Eleanor, upon noticing his eagerness and ability to play, signed him up for lessons.  The concertina was too big for the boy to carry, so he hauled it…

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  • Bernie Witkowski – Living Category – Inducted 1971

      Bernie Witkowski – Bernie Wyte – was born in New York, a fourth generation of clarinet players.  His talent didn’t stop with playing the clarinet; he also plays sax, accordion, flute, drums and organ, writes the words and music to songs, introduces new dances and finds time to conduct…

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  • Walter Dana – Living Category – Inducted 1971

    Walter Dana – Wladyslaw Dan Danilowski – a resident of Miami Beach, Florida, was born in Warsaw, Poland.  He began playing piano and composing at the age of seven.  His musical education was obtained at the Warsaw Conservatory and Paris.  He received a law diploma at the Warsaw University.  He…

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  • Frank Wojnarowski – Living Category – Inducted 1970

      Frank Wojnarowski, a resident of Fairfield, Connecticut, was born in Sanok, Poland.  He started the Frank Wojnarowski Orchestra thirty years ago; his instrument was the violin.  His sister Eleanore was the original vocalist in the band.  Their first break, a recording session with Dana Records, came in 1947 –…

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  • Eddie Blazonczyk, Sr. – Living Category – Inducted 1970

      Eddie Blazonczyk was a native Chicagoan, son of Fred and Antoinette Blazonczyk, who for years operated the Pulaski Village Ballroom and later the Club Antoinette in Chicago.  Eddie started playing polkas in the early fifties with a four-piece combo known as “Happy Eddie and his Polka Jesters.”  They performed…

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  • Frankie Yankovic – Living Category – Inducted 1969

    Both Andy Yankovic and Rose Mele came to America in 1903 from the Republic of Slovenia. However, neither knew the other in the old country. They first met in a lumber camp in Davis, West Virginia, where many Slovenes worked. Married in 1910, they had three daughters: Josephine, Rose and…

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  • Li’l Wally Jagiello – Living Category – Inducted 1969

    Li’l Wally has been one of the most important and influential polka musicians in America. He was responsible for creating the Chicago-style polka, a slower, more danceable, more improvisational sound, whose core appeal lay with Polish-Americans. Wally was a cottage industry unto himself, recording at an often frantic pace and…

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