*Deceased in 2017*
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, listening to idol Romy Gosz, Lawrence Duchow, The Six Fat Dutchmen, and Whoopie John. Listening to them was a dream for him.
In 1946, Jerry entered High School in Wausau, WI. One of the first classes he signed up for was band and he came home begging his dad to buy him a trumpet. But Dad had not forgotten about his giving up the violin, which he had tried to learn in grade school. Finally, he gave in and bought Jerry a used Blessing trumpet for $40. He began lessons.
As he progressed on the trumpet, playing in the high school band, some of the kids in band talked about forming a band and they liked the same music as Jerry did. Their first practice was in the Goetsch living room on the farm. This was the beginning of the seven-piece Jerry Goetsch Orchestra.
After a short time, their band director let them practice during the noon hour in the band room. It wasn’t long and the teachers asked them to play in the gym for the noon hour for dancing to old time music.
Their first dance job was for a wedding at Rib Falls Ballroom. From that start, they continued for 42 years. Jerry was really proud to say that three of his musicians stayed with him for the entire 42 years.
Through the years, the band made recordings on 78 LP’s, then 45’s, 33’s, and then cassettes–traveling throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota and other locations, during polka fests and dance jobs.
In 1960, they played live shows on WRIG in Wausau, Wisconsin, and in 1964, they started doing live TV shows on WSAU-TV. Later on, shows were taped at the studio and at local dance halls–they were played back on Sunday mornings before the Packers football game.
The Jerry Goetsch Orchestra was on TV for 26 years. They also started European, Hawaiian and cruise trips during the years of TV, and their first trip was to the Oktoberfest in Munich. They filled two stretch jets with 459 people. They incorporated with their TV announcer, Jerry Gertschen, and became Polka Productions. After 42 years, Jerry retired the band on New Year 1992.
Music was Jerry Goetsch’s life. In addition to the band, his wife and he owned Jerry’s Music Inc., a complete music store in Wausau, Wisconsin. They had two children, Terry Goetsch–who carried on with Jerry’s Music. He still had a two-piece combo entertaining around the Merrill, Wausau area and in mobile parks in Florida. Carol and he enjoyed the warm weather in Florida, remembering all the good times and good friends they made through the music business over the years.