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…

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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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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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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…

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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…

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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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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…

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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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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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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,…

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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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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…

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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,…

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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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