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…

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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…

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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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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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. …

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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…

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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…

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